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Rays optimistic of a good season as spring training begins

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It’s spring, and the Rays see answers instead of questions.

Surgically repaired pitcher Alex Cobb? He’s an asset. Catcher Wilson Ramos? He’s going to help, even if he can’t get behind the plate for a while yet. Shortstop Matt Duffy, who was hurt when the Rays traded for him? Rays’ manager Kevin Cash is looking forward to seeing him add to the offense and defense.

And so it goes. It’s the time of year when skies are partly sunny instead of partly rainy.

“We expect to be playing games in October,” Cash said. Now, that would ensure the playoffs, because the regular-season has only one game slated for October. If the Rays are playing games, plural, it would mean the post season. “That’s the goal. We’re confident with what we’ve done in the off-season. We’re confident with the core guys and the way they finished the year.”

Most prognostications have the Rays in the cellar again, so making it to the post-season would be a nice turnaround.

Can Chris Archer turn his season around? Can Steven Souza cut down on his strikeouts? Can players who had good years (Evan Longoria, Alex Colome, Brad Miller) copy their successes?

The Rays are counting on a lot of things to go right, in other words.

On the other hand, isn’t that what spring is for?

“There are a lot of guys in that clubhouse with a lot of pride,” Cash said. “Not only with their individual performance, but the performance of the team. I don’t think anyone felt good about anything that last series in Texas. I think it’s motivated some guys to work on some things they needed to work on.”

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

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