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Year in Review: This season, the Rays hope to avoid their late-season fate

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For much of the season, the Tampa Bay Rays were concerned with building a new home.

Perhaps they should have been worried about how to get home instead.

In their first season under Kevin Cash, the Rays were 14th in a 15-league American League as far as scoring runs in last year’s 80-82 season. And while injuries to the pitching staff were a main factor, the team’s offense, as always, turned out to be insufficient.

The Rays were seventh in the league in batting, but still didn’t score enough runs. The team started the season 40-30, but finished 40-52.

This year, Tampa Bay will have a solid outfield returning with gold glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaker, Mikey Mahtook and Steven Souza Sr. If the team doesn’t lose too much of its pitching — and trades for Jake Odorizzi, Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger have been mentioned — it figures to be an outside contender for a wild card position.

The Rays lost shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, but hope that Brad Miller — who they traded for — can fill the hole. The Rays also hope their bullpen can be strong, but the possible trades of McGee and Boxberger might affect that.

As usual, the AL East will be talented. There are the reloaded Red Sox, the returning champion Blue Jays, the Yankees and the Orioles.

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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