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Rays’ centerfielder Kevin Keirmaier just getting started

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There is the large oil painting arranged by his teammates.

There is the Gold Glove. There is the Platinum Glove.

All around Kevin Kiermaier, there are the memories of 2015, a year when so many good things happened to him. Someday, perhaps, Kiermaier will reflect.

For now, however, there is more to be done.

Kiermaier, the centerfielder for the Rays, is just getting started. He swears he will not rest. He insists he is not satisfied.

“There’s a lot left for me to do,” Kiermaier said. “I want to win. I want to get to the playoffs. I want to win a World Series.

“ I still want to prove myself offensively. I want to do more damage on the basepaths. I want to be more mature on the defensive side. There were some things last year – I know I had a great year defensively – but there were times I rushed a couple of throws. I just want to stay consistent and healthy. There were stretches here and there where I was a little inconsistent at times and the best players in the game are consistent. I want to try to make an impact.”

“I know myself better than anyone on the planet. I want to be better than I was last year.”

A year ago, Kiermaier became one of the mainstays of the Rays. He hit .263, and by the end of the season, he was an everyday player.

“The nice thing about KK is the year he had last year put him on the map,” said manager Kevin Cash. “He did it predominantly with defense. We’re very confident that’s going to continue to evolve. He’s as locked in as anyone we have. His plate discipline has improved. He’s so athletic, so talented.”

“He has as much drive as anyone. He exudes the confidence of belonging here. He wants to be talked about as one of the best players in the game.”

Kiermaier speaks, frankly, like a guy who has removed all the doubts. He was an afterthought, remember, a 31st-round draft pick who wasn’t supposed to climb very high. Part of Kiermaier seems to get a kick out of reminding people about that.

“All of us want to be everyday players,” Kiermaier said. “My being on the field gives us the best chance of winning. I truly believe that. I want to be an impact player. I know I have a lot more to offer. As a player, you’re never content.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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