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Every Rays season is one to savor for Staats

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Dewayne Staats has seen the good and the bad with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Losing doted the landscape when the franchise went by "Devil Rays," and winning has been the catch of the day since they became the "Rays."

Staats has been the voice of the Rays since the team's inaugural season in 1998. He began his Major League play-by-play career as the radio and TV voice of the Astros from 1977-84, and then called radio and TV action for the Cubs from 1985-89. He was the lead play-by-play announcer for the Yankees and also spent the 1994-95 seasons calling games for The Baseball Network (ABC/NBC).

His career began as a sports reporter for WSIE Radio while he was a student at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Ill. He began his baseball career as the radio voice of the Oklahoma City 89ers (now the RedHawks) from 1973-74.

Staats has called a lot of games and has been witness to a lot of baseball and many great moments in Major League history. But those experiences have in no way dulled his enthusiasm for the sport. Another year is upon him, and he's almost like one of the Rays players, given his outward zeal in looking forward to the 2014 season and what might be.

"The Rays have had a remarkable run as we all know for six years, and I think it will be a seventh year as well," Staats said. "Not only the additions, Ryan Hanigan's a big addition behind the plate. He'll divide time with [Jose] Molina. Molina won't have to answer the bell as often. I think that's a great plus."

Staats pointed out that the club's strength in the past has been pitching and defense, and this year's team will be no different. So he believes the work done during the offseason will play into the strengths of this season.

"They've addressed something to help the pitching with the catching situation," Staats said. "And a couple of the re-signs. Bringing back [David] Price, of course, is the big one. I thought when [James] Loney came over here last year, the Rays had a pretty good infield to begin with. Now with him back and another year of familiarity, even better.

"For those reasons, I think they're going to be in every game -- pitching supported by great defense. They'll have to scratch for runs again, but they'll have Wil Myers for a whole year."

Staats likes the continuity of this year's team and how that continuity of personnel will be appreciated by the fans and how it will go a long way toward helping the club win.

"I think that's important," Staats said. "Free agency makes continuity a difficult thing to achieve for any team. When you don't have some of the same players, there's a lot of talk about not having that familiarity. Not only is continuity for the fans, but it's good for the team inside the clubhouse."

The Rays have advanced to the World Series once in team history, when they lost to the Phillies in five games in the 2008 World Series. Will '14 be the year the Rays get back to the Fall Classic and emerge victorious?

"They went to World Series in '08," Staats said. "They want to get there again and win it. ... I think they could go to the World Series and win it this time."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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