Time for a long look at the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier?

The Rays center fielder might be recognized as the Face of Tampa Bay Sports, if only he could stay on the field and reach the playoffs.
DIRK SHADD   |   TimesTampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) celebrates in the dugout after he hit a three run homer in the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, on Monday, July 1, 2019.
DIRK SHADD | TimesTampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) celebrates in the dugout after he hit a three run homer in the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, on Monday, July 1, 2019.
Published July 8

ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier is more than just a pretty face among Tampa Bay sports personalities, though his handsome looks and green eyes are often a topic of conversation.

Kiermaier has the personality, athleticism, presence and talent to be the face of all Tampa Bay sports.

And the panache.

Kiermaier has the ability to amazing things on the field, the flair to celebrate what he does and the self-confidence to detail how good he is to do so.

But it may take the Rays returning to the platform of the playoffs for him to be so recognized in a market where they aren’t the top choice.

And for him to stay on the field all season.

[ RELATED: Who is the face of Tampa Bay sports? ]

Kiermaier has been one of the most dynamic players in baseball, though injuries have sidelined him for parts of the last three seasons.

When healthy, Kiermaier, 29, is the rare player who can impact a game, and enthrall a crowd, in multiple ways.

His speed, jumping ability and strong arm make him one of the preeminent centerfielders in the majors, with two Gold Gloves (plus a platinum one for overall defensive dominance) and two Wilson Defensive Player of the Awards.

That same speed gives him the aggressiveness and derring-do to turn hits that would be singles for just about anyone else into two bases, (prompting the Rays PR staff to label, and track, “hustle doubles”), doubles into exciting triples and scoring from any base on an ensuing hit a possibility.

He has also emerged, since the December 2017 trade of Evan Longoria, as a leader in the clubhouse, from addressing his teammates when needed, to heading up the post-game dance-party celebrations for each win, to being readily available to the media in good times and bad.

The Rays made clear how they felt in spring 2017, signing him to a massive-for-them long-term deal, guaranteeing $53.5 million over six years, with a $13 million option for 2023.

But there’s more to the story.

Kiermaier and his wife, Marisa, plus 7 ½ month old son Karter James, have made their year-round home in the Tampa Bay and are immersed in the community.

He’s a popular draw at team and charity events. He is a regular during the off-season at the University of Tampa fields offering workout tips and instruction to the Spartans. And, with Marisa, this season launched their first dedicated cause, the Kiermaier’s Kids programs, where they partnered with the Children’s Dream Fund to donate $25,000 to fund the dreams of five children dealing with life-threatening illnesses and hosting them at the Trop.

[ The face of Tampa Bay sports? Steven Stamkos fulfilled his destiny ]

Kiermaier is also putting that pretty face to work through current endorsement deals with Fitlife Foods, Pro Balance Protein Water and the Morgan Auto Group, plus another in the works with the Yogurtology chain and his reps at Reynolds Sports Management regularly exploring others that are presented. He also has a featured role in a promo spot for Fox Sports Sun, and done past photo shoots for Majestic and Eastbay sports apparel/equipment companies.

Not sold? Take a look into those oft described as dreamy eyes. But be warned …

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

Advertisement