BY GEORGE J. DACRE
Jamie Keefe, new manager of the Rockland Boulders, will bring an aggressive baseball team to the Provident Bank Ballpark starting on Opening Day, May 16.
Team President Ken Lehner said he recruited Keefe to take another step in getting into the playoffs in the Independent Leage. Keefe, a former winner of the Manager-of-the-Year Award from the Can-Am league is not only regarded as a valuable game manager, but as a knowledgeable and gifted appraiser of talent. Lehner and co-owner Shawn Reilly said this was one of the key reasons he was the right man for the job at this time.
The owners remarked that Dave LaPoint had done a nice job in his two years, but that Keefe seemed the better fit going forward.
Keefe, introduced at a meet and greet last Thursday, along with returning star pitcher Bobby Blevins, spent six hours with Boulders administration people going over about 100 names of ballplayers from all parts of the U.S.A. looking for speedy base runners, hard hitters, quality pitchers and more that will make up the 22-man Boulders team.
The new manager believes that the ballpark alone will aid in recruiting, because players will want to play in the multi-million dollar stadium on Pomona Road.
He noted that many players will become available in February when it will be learned whether or not they have been selected for a minor league affiliate. “We will be looking everywhere for talent,” Keefe told the Rockland County Times.
Blevins confirmed to the Rockland County Times he is coming back to Pomona this year barring a call from a major league affiliated franchise. Blevins was traded to the Long Island Ducks near last season’s end, where he helped them win the championship of the Atlantic League. In fact, Blevins pitched in the team’s championship game. He’ll be back in Pomona this spring, however, and the 27-year-old who reached AAA as recently as 2010, said his goal is still to make it to the majors.
Asked about his style of managing, Keefe said he is “aggressive” with lots of base-stealing and playing hard to make the other teams make mistakes. He said Provident Bank ballpark, with its short porch past right field, will attract ballplayers who see it as a place where you can hit home runs. Keefe has not named his hitting and pitching staff yet.
Ballplayers on the Boulders team earn anywhere from $800 to $3,000 a month. Last years the Boulders drew more than 161,000 fans to their home games, the highest total in the Can-Am league.