Sep 24, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) singled during the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Rays Begin Spring Training With Optimism

The Tampa Bay Rays have officially begun spring training, with the hope that their 2017 season will lead to a better result than last year.

Team In Review

The team is looking to improve on their 2016 season, where they ended with a 68-94 record. That record made the Rays dead last in the American League East.

The Rays are hopeful that the clean slate that comes with a new season will bode well for them in developing the winning formula during this Spring Training.

Chris Archer, pitcher for the Rays, spoke about what he believes the key to a successful season is.

“I think just being healthy is going to be our key…. Being healthy and our starting pitching doing its normal thing. Nothing more, nothing less,” said Archer to the team’s website.

The team is also going into this Spring with optimism and excitement to begin playing baseball again.

The Rays are also hoping that their free agent additions will boost the offense and defense to a postseason appearance in 2017. The free agents signed by the Tampa Bay Rays include:

  • RHP Shawn Tolleson (one year, $1 million, $1.15 million in incentives)
  • OF Colby Ramsus (one year, $5 million with $2 million in potential incentives)
  • C Wilson Ramos (two years, $12.5 million)

Who to Watch

One player for the team to watch out for is center fielder Kevin Kiermaier. Kiermaier made his MLB debut in the 2013 season with Tampa Bay. Coming off of his 2016 season with the team, he is on the verge of having a breakout year. Kiermaier finished the season with a career-high 12 home runs, 21 stolen bases, 90 hits and 55 runs. The center fielder also ended the season with 37 RBIs.

He did suffer a fractured left hand on May 21 against the Detroit Lions at Comerica Park.

Kiermiaier dove to grab a fly ball, but would land awkwardly on his hand. The injury would see Kiermaier leave the game in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Sep 12, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) hits a single during the first inning in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

As spring training approaches, Kiermaier is looking forward to the relaxed environment that comes with the training. He’s also enjoying the fact that stats don’t matter and feels that people read too far into the stats. He also feels that it gives the team seven weeks to get locked in and ready to go for the impending season.Also, Kiermaier feels that his age and experience in the league simply makes him better at the plate.

Kiermaier will be a key component for the Rays as they look to have a successful campaign in their search for the postseason in 2017. If the momentum he built in 2016 is any indication of what he’ll bring to the team,the Rays could be well on their way.

Spring Training Information

The Tampa Bay Rays will begin their first full-team training camp on Friday.

The team’s first spring training game will be against the Minnesota Twins. The game will take place on Feb. 24 at 7:05 p.m. from Fort Myers.

About Stephen Cabrera

Stephen Cabrera is a current University of Florida Journalism student and fan of football, basketball, mixed martial arts and professional wrestling.

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