Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier pulls off perfect engagement

Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier pulls off perfect engagement

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Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier pulls off perfect engagement

Kevin Kiermaier is a two-time Gold Glove center fielder.

Kevin Kiermaier is a two-time Gold Glove center fielder.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Kevin Kiermaier is a two-time Gold Glove winner who at times defies gravity and outruns scorching line drives to make highlight-reel catches for the Tampa Bay Rays.

But perhaps nothing he’s done on the baseball field required the precision it took to pull off an engagement that took one of Central Florida’s most eligible bachelors off the market.

A piece of plywood, a willing future sister- and mother-in-law and even the Golden State Warriors all played key roles in Kiermaier’s conspiracy to beat the calendar and successfully request Marisa Moralobo’s hand in marriage.

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“Life is good for me right now,” said Kiermaier, 26, who reported to camp on Tuesday for a season in which he’s expected to be the Rays’ full-time No. 1 or 2 hitter. “A very eventful off-season.”

To say the least. Kiermaier purchased his first home, and then went about the far more arduous task of ensuring it would have a second permanent residence.

Kiermaier and Moralobo’s romance came to light about a year ago. This winter, he was inspired to propose, and had a date in mind well before spring training.

One problem: While vacationing in Montana with his brothers, Kiermaier’s older brother Dan – who works as a groundskeeper at Wrigley Field – let it be known he was going to propose to his girlfriend in February.

“Once he said that I said, ‘You know what? I’m not going to steal his shine,’” Kiermaier said.

So he “let the dust settle,” as he put it, for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, baseball season waits for no man, and Kiermaier – a Type A personality if there ever was one – wanted to have his biggest personal transaction taken care of before it was time to report.

So it had to be last Saturday, which happened to be his future mother-in-law’s birthday.

They went to dinner and then Kiermaier went to work. Moralobo’s younger sister served as videographer.  Her mother went to great pains to decorate her backyard to Marisa’s exacting specifications.

A family friend had carved out a piece of plywood with the words “MARRY ME” painted on them, and it fit just so in a living room window.

Fortunately, there was a compelling televised sporting event to serve as distraction. Kiermaier beckoned Moralobo – who played collegiate volleyball at Florida’s Warner University – into the living room to catch the Warriors-Oklahoma City Thunder game.

“I went out in the backyard,” says Kiermaier, “and her mom comes in and says, ‘Hey Marisa, we’re going to go to the backyard and eat my birthday cake.’

“She walks out and it was only me.

“She told me everything she wanted when it did happen, so I kept all these mental notes. So once I dropped down to one knee, Marissa was so surprised. It’s a three-minute video that Marissa will never forget. It was perfect.”

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Kiermaier insists he won’t bring up his proposal again after Tuesday; he’s going full throttle into what he hopes is a huge 2017 season.

After winning his first Gold Glove in 2016, Kiermaier suffered a broken hand attempting – what else? – a diving catch on May 21. He missed seven weeks, which didn’t sink his Gold Glove candidacy but did curtail his offensive development.

Still, he made strides last year, upping his on-base percentage from .298 to .331 as he aims to become a more well-rounded player.

“I want to maintain a level of consistency myself,” he said. “I feel like when I’m going good, our team does very well. You can say that about a lot of guys on our team. But I want to be available each and every day, and try to create havoc any way I can.”

He says his body feels great, and it seems abundantly clear his active winter has his mind and heart in the right place, as well.

“I couldn’t have had a better off-season,” he said. “This one truly topped all.”

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