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Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier wants to be an everyday starter for Rays

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Kevin Kiermaier returned home this week. He intends to stay.

For Kiermaier, of course, home is center field.

He wants to stay there, Kiermaier told reporters as he showed up for spring training. Kiermaier, the gold-glove winner for the Tampa Bay Rays, said he wants to play 155 games this year.

For Kiermaier, that means he has to do a better job of hitting against lefthanders (he hit only .231 last year).

“I know I can hit lefties,” he said. “I have I will. I think that’s going to be the final thing for me, just to prove to everyone that I can consistenty hit lefties. Even thougth I don’t hit them for power, I know I can put the ball in play in play and put pressure on the defense.

Last year, Kiermaier hit .246 against lefties and .270 against righties.

With Kiermaier, however, his play in centerfield is good enough to make up for some dip in his average.

“I think I showed everyone that me being out there in centerfield gives us a great chance of winning,” Keiermaier said.

Kiermaier has become one of those local-legend type players. An MLB survey recently had him ranked only seventh among centerfielders. Manager Kevin Cash called the ranking “stupid.”

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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