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It’s no surprise that the Tampa Bay Rays are struggling at the All-Star break

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The major league All-Star game will proceed without the Tampa Bay Rays.

Without any arguments for their players, either.

Oh, relief pitcher Alex Colome made it to the game with 19 saves this season. And Evan Longoria, hitting .289 with 19 homers, was eliminated in the voting for the final slot. Hey, you could even get a debate going in the name of second-baseman Logan Forsythe, who is hitting .285.

But, really, after that, all arguments are closed.  No one is even close to being an all-star. Which shows you that it wasn’t much of a surprise that the Rays finished on a 3-22 swoon. The Rays are bad, well, because they deserve to be bad.

Start with the pitching, where Chris Archer is 4-12 and Drew Smyly is 2-10 and Blake Snell is 1-4. By those standards, Matt Moore (5-6) and Jake Odorizzi (3-5) don’t look that bad.

Then there is the team’s catching, where Hank Conger has an average of .194 and Curt Casali has an average of .169.

How about the infield? Logan Morrison has been better lately, but he’s still at .236. Brad Miller has shown some pop, but he’s at .241. Backup shortstop Tim Beckham is at .170.

The outfield isn’t much better. Desmond Jennings is at .202 and Steven Souza is at .251 and is tied for eighth with 92 strikeouts. Kevin Kiermaier has played in only 38 games because of injury, but he’s hitting .236. Reserve Jaff Dacker is hitting .138 and Taylor Motter .188.

Also, the Rays don’t particularly play good defense, they don’t particularly run bases well and they aren’t particularly athletic.

In other words, the Rays slide (from 31-32) isn’t a surprise. It will be a surprise if the Rays manage to right themselves in the second half.

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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