Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer

Joe Smith

Joe Smith covers the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Bucs for the Tampa Bay Times. He joined the Times in 2006 after spending two years with the Modesto Bee in California, where he did everything from covering the Single-A Modesto Nuts minor league baseball team and high school football to tackling first-person stories on whitewater rafting and adventure racing. Smith, 26, grew up in the Detroit suburbs and attended the University of Michigan, where he covered the football, basketball and hockey teams for the Michigan Daily. He freelanced for the Associated Press and Detroit Free Press before securing internships at Crain's Detroit Business and the Raleigh News & Observer. An avid runner, Smith loves traveling, pizza and checking out local bands.

Phone: (813) 310 9024



Bucs Beat

The Heater

  1. Five things to know about the Canadiens

    Lightning Strikes

    Even the mayor is a major critic

    Hockey is a religion in Montreal, with the Canadiens enduring intense scrutiny and pressure. Just ask center David Desharnais, (right), who was called out publicly by Mayor Denis Coderre in November. After Desharnais started the season with just one assist in his first 17 games, Coderre sent out a disparaging Twitter post: "Hello? A one-way ticket to Hamilton (Montreal's AHL team) for David Desharnais." The Canadiens rallied around Desharnais, who turned his season around in a big way, finishing with 16 goals and 36 assists in 79 games and was plus-11. And after Desharnais scored the shootout winner Nov. 15 against Columbus, Coderre said on Twitter, "Bravo David." "It was tough, for sure," Desharnais — from Laurier-Station, Quebec, about 125 miles north of Montreal — told the Hockey News. "You're in the NHL, you're playing in your hometown in front of your family and friends, and you're getting embarrassed by the mayor. It's not easy."...

    Sports Illustrated in 2013 dubbed Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban the "most hated" player in hockey.
  2. Killorn and Barberio thrilled to face hometown Canadiens


    For Lightning C Alex Killorn and D Mark Barberio, who grew up in bordering neighborhoods in Montreal's west island, facing the Canadiens in the playoffs is extra special.

    "It's really exciting," Killorn said. "A lot of friends and family are going to be watching. I'm not sure how many of them will be rooting for me."

    Quipped Barberio: "I've got some family that still won't change."...

  3. Lightning-Canadiens: How they match up

    Lightning Strikes

    The Lightning and Canadiens open their best-of-seven first-round Eastern Conference playoff series tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. It's a good bet that the games will be close, considering three of the teams' four regular-season meetings this season went past regulation and two were decided by shootouts. Tampa Bay won the series 3-0-1. Who has the edge in the playoffs?


    Carey Price, Canadiens...

    Carey Price of the Canadiens tends net against the Predators at Bridgestone Arena on December 21 in Nashville.
  4. Palat, Filppula return to practice


    The Lightning got some good news on the injury front Tuesday, as two of its top scorers, LW Ondrej Palat and C Valteri Filppula, returned to practice.

    Filppula (lower body), tied with Steven Stamkos for a team-best 25 goals, was hurt Thursday against the Flyers and hasn't played the last two games. Palat (upper body), with a team-best 59 points, was hurt Friday against Columbus.

    While we won't an official update from coach Jon Cooper for another hour, the fact both players were at practice is a good sign they may be able to play for Wednesday's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Canadiens....

    Ondrej Palat, who has a team-best 59 points, sustained an upper-body injury Friday against Columbus.
  5. Lightning's Lindback NHL's first star for week

    Lightning Strikes

    Lindback is NHL's first star

    TAMPA — Lightning goalie Anders Lindback was named the NHL's first star of the week on Monday. Lindback, who stepped in when starter Ben Bishop injured his elbow April 8, went 3-0-0 with a .067 goals against average and .975 save percentage. That included Sunday's 1-0 shootout victory over the Capitals to help Tampa Bay clinch home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. Ducks goalie John Gibson and Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen were the other two stars....

  6. Lightning's Callahan, Canadiens' Gionta renew friendly rivalry in NHL playoffs

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Lightning wing Ryan Callahan delivers a hard check to Canadiens captain Brian Gionta during this week's first-round playoff series, consider it payback for their many childhood battles.

    Callahan, 29, and Gionta, 35, grew up just a few minutes away from each other in Greece, N.Y., a small suburb of Rochester. Callahan was good friends with Gionta's younger brother Stephen, 30, now a Devils center. Gionta hung out with Callahan's older brother Mike....

    Ryan Callahan has racked up six goals and five assists in 19 games with Tampa Bay, providing an edge and grit coach Jon Cooper said they needed.
  7. Rays' Wil Myers seeks calm return to Kansas City

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RF Wil Myers figures today's return to Kansas City will come without as much hoopla or hype.

    "Hopefully," he says, "there's not another press conference."

    Myers, 23, had one at Kauffman Stadium on Aug. 26, when the former Royals prized prospect made his much-anticipated first visit. Myers, acquired in the trade involving RHP James Shields on Dec. 9, 2012, was just two months removed from his first big-league call-up when he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in an 11-1 loss in a makeup game....

  8. Rays: Maddon's new puppy; rooting for Kentucky


    Puppy love: Rays manager Joe Maddon already had an English bulldog named Winston Churchill Maddon. Now he has a first lady for his first lady, surprising wife Jaye on Saturday with a puppy named Clementine Churchill Maddon (left). The brown and white English bulldog was an early birthday present for Jaye, paying her back for throwing him a surprise birthday party in February. Clementine, fittingly, was born on Maddon's birthday (Feb. 8). Quipped Maddon: "Is that dog-ology or astro-ology?"


  9. Video report: Rays lose 3-0 to Rangers to end homestand


    The Rays wrapped up their seven-game homestand with a 3-0 loss to the Rangers Sunday at Tropicana Field. It was a pitcher's duel between the Rays' Alex Cobb and Rangers' Yu Darvish, but Rays reliever Joel Peralta gave up a two-run homer in the eighth inning to Elvis Andrus, which proved the difference.

  10. Rays up next: at Royals

    The Heater

    . up next



    What's new: The Royals (2-3) are coming off their first winning season (86-76) since 2003. Their staff is led by ex-Rays RHP James Shields, who won't pitch in this series. They have one of the game's top young catchers, Salvador Perez, and added 2B Omar Infante to a lineup led by 1B Eric Hosmer, LF Alex Gordon and DH Billy Butler. The rotation lost RHP Ervin Santana but gained LHP Jason Vargas and hard-throwing Dominican RHP Yordano Ventura....

  11. Rays take to the road after loss to Rangers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon predicted Sunday's game would be a "marquee matchup" on the mound, and it certainly was.

    Rays right-hander Alex Cobb matched Rangers ace Yu Darvish, each throwing seven scoreless innings. Cobb cruised, allowing just three hits. Darvish battled out of jams.

    "Both guys were outstanding," Maddon said.

    But Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus snapped the stalemate with two outs in the eighth, belting a two-run homer off setup man Joel Peralta to hand the Rays a 3-0 loss in front of 22,569 at Tropicana Field. ...

    Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan watches Shin-Soo Choo, middle, and Elvis Andrus celebrate Andrus’ home run that put the Rangers ahead 2-0 in the eighth inning.
  12. For starters, Rays vs. Rangers


    The Rays, winners of three straight, will go for a sweep of the Rangers today in a Sunday matinee to end their homestand.

    RHP Alex Cobb will be on the mound, hoping to rebound from what he called a "pretty terrible" season debut Tuesday in a loss to the Blue Jays. The Rangers will throw their ace, RHP Yu Darvish, who is coming off the disabled list.

    OF David DeJesus, who suffered a bruised right foot Monday, will be DH again, though said he's feeling better. He'll likely play more outfield on the grass surface on the upcoming road trip....

  13. Rays: Myers honored, team culture

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Rangers

    When/where: 1:40 today; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tickets: $18-$275, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster,, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within five hours of game time

    Promotion: Desmond Jennings baseball buddy for kids 14 and younger

    Probable pitchers...

  14. James Loney lifts Rays over Rangers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Left-hander David Price said he can't remember the last time he was sick.

    But after battling a 101-degree fever Friday night and still feeling bad Saturday, there was a legitimate question if he would make his scheduled start against the Rangers.

    "Everybody was really concerned, even immediately before the game," leftfielder Matt Joyce said. "He was having some real health issues. Everyone kind of was looking around like, 'Oh, God, what do we do if he can't go?' "...

    Evan Longoria celebrates after scoring along with Wil Myers on James Loney's eighth-inning double.
  15. Rays sign Escobar to extension


    The Rays and shortstop Yunel Escobar have agreed to a two-year contract extension worth a guaranteed $13 million, covering 2015 and 2016 with a one-year club option for 2017.

    Escobar, a Gold Glove finalist last season, already had a club option for 2015 worth $5 million. This deal covers that option, so Escobar will make $5 million next season, $7 million in 2016, and $7 million in 2017, or a $1 million club option....