Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer

Joe Smith

Joe Smith became the Tampa Bay Lightning beat writer for the Tampa Bay Times in 2014. He spent the previous six years splitting time covering the Rays, Bucs and Lightning 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 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, bowling and singing karaoke.

Phone: (813) 310 9024



Lightning Strikes

  1. Rays: Rookie Kirby Yates treats himself to new golf clubs

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Red Sox

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Tickets: $21-$300, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster,, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Jake Odorizzi (9-11, 4.23)

    RED SOX: RH Allen Webster (3-2, 5.81)...

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi pauses in the third inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Baltimore. Baltimore scored three runs in the third. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) MDPS105
  2. Red Sox rip Rays as Archer struggles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays starter Chris Archer faced Red Sox slugger David Ortiz three times in the first three innings Friday night, setting things up for some potentially interesting theater.

    But there were no bat flips or beanballs in the first meeting since the players shared critical words (through the media) in late July. Other than Ortiz getting booed more vociferously before every at-bat, there were no added fireworks in front of 16,107 at Tropicana Field....

    Evan Longoria, taking a ball during a third-inning at-bat, and the Rays offense shows few signs of life after falling behind 8-0 in the second inning against the Red Sox.
  3. Jake Odorizzi putting rough outing behind him

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Not much went right for RHP Jake Odorizzi in his last start Monday, when he gave up career highs in runs (eight), hits (11) and home runs (four) against the Orioles.

    "I wish I would have done a lot of things differently," Odorizzi said.

    But as Odorizzi enters tonight's outing against the Red Sox, manager Joe Maddon hopes the rookie doesn't try to overhaul his approach....

    BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 25: Starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi #23 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on after giving up a two RBI home run to the Baltimore Orioles in the third inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 25, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) 477588667
  4. For starters, Rays vs. Red Sox


    Update 5:24 p.m.  Rays manager Joe Maddon said he "would not doubt" that there will be more attention paid to David Ortiz's at-bats against Chris Archer tonight, considering the critical comments the two players traded after the last meeting.

    But Maddon hope nothing comes of it, pointing out that sometimes things are said in the heat of the moment.

    *Maddon said he would have been surprised had someone told him before the season that this late-August series between the Rays and Red Sox would include the fourth and fifth-place team in the division. Maddon said his team's situation is a byproduct of a 1-14 stretch earlier in this season that put them behind, and though they got back to .500 after being 18 games below, it took a lot out of them....

    Chris Archer will take the mound in his first start against the Red Sox since he criticized DH David Ortiz for admiring his home runs.
  5. Drouin, Vasilevskiy highlight Lightning prospect camp roster


    The Lightning announced its roster for the upcoming rookie camp and prospect tournament, and there are several big names on the list.

    Forward Jonathan Drouin, goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and first-round pick Anthony DeAngelo will be among the 24 players that will compete in Antioch, Tennessee from Sept. 13-16. The participants will report to camp Sept. 11 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum for testing and physicals before leaving and facing the Panthers, Predators and Bruins....

  6. All Lightning games will be televised


    All of the Tampa Bay Lightning regular-season games will be televised this season.

    Sun Sports announced Tuesday that it will show 77 of the Lightning's games, including the opener Oct. 9 against the Panthers, which will feature a special one-hour edition of the pre-game show. The NBC Sports Network will televise the other five Lightning games.

    For Sun Sports, play-by-play announcers Rick Peckham returns, as will Bobby “The Chief” Taylor as color analyst. Lightning LIVE host Paul Kennedy will be joined throughout the year by Chris Dingman and Dave Andreychuk as color analysts during pregame, postgame and intermissions. Kelly Nash also returns as in-game reporter and “Inside the Lightning” host....

  7. Sports in Brief



    Liverpool signs Balotelli, loses at Man City

    Liverpool signed Italy striker Mario Balotelli from AC Milan for $26.5 million on Monday, 19 months after he left Manchester City to play for his boyhood club. During his time at City, Balotelli was ejected off four times, threw a dart at a youth-team player and was involved with exploding fireworks in his bathroom. Balotelli, who has signed what Liverpool said is a "long-term deal," spent his first day with his new English Premier League team watching them lose 3-1 at Manchester City. He wasn't registered in time to play. Stevan Jovetic led the defending EPL champions with two goals and Sergio Aguero scored a goal....

  8. Namestnikov enjoys NHLPA Rookie Showcase


    Lightning center prospect Vladislav Namestnikov wasn't much of a card collector growing up, but he did manage to keep every single one he could find with his uncle, former Red Wings forward Slava Kozlov, on the front.

    Over the weekend, Namestnikov got to pose for a card of his own, made by Upper Deck, during the NHLPA Rookie Showcase in Toronto.

    "It's pretty neat," he said.

    Namestnikov, 21, joined 32 other prospects, including Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, at the event, which also included photo shoots, autograph signings and a group scrimmage at the site of the old Maple Leaf Gardens. The group visited the NHL Hall of Fame, even competed in an EA Sports NHL 15 video game tournament....

  9. Could Costello's roller-coaster end in Tampa Bay?


    For forward prospect Jeff Costello, his whirlwind year almost plays out like an answer to a trivia question.

    Costello, 23, has been a member of three different NHL organizations in this past year without having signed his first pro contract, nor played his first pro game.

    "I've never seen anything like it," agent Daniel Plante said.

    "It's been crazy," Costello said.

    But Costello's roller-coaster ride could end up with the Lightning, which acquired his rights from Vancouver in June along with defenseman Jason Garrison. Costello, who just finished his four-year career at Notre Dame, thought he was going to sign with the Senators, the team that drafted him in the fifth round 2009. But Ottawa traded him to Vancouver in March, then his rights were shipped to Tampa Bay this summer....

  10. NHL makes changes to draft lottery system


    The National Hockey League announced changes to its draft lottery system Wednesday, hoping to reflect the overall state of competitive balance.

    It results in a more evenly-balanced allocation of odds, with the 10 highest finishing non-playoff qualifying teams receiving higher (or better) odds than they had previously, and the four lowest-finishing teams getting lower (worse) odds. These set of odds will remain in effect year-to-year in the future....

  11. Former Lightning Ryan Malone 'baffled' at cocaine find

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When a Tampa police officer pulled a bag of cocaine out of Ryan Malone's back pocket during an April 11 DUI arrest, the then-Lightning wing appeared stunned.

    "Oh my God," he told officer Andrew Visser.

    Malone, 34, waived his Miranda rights and told Visser he didn't know where the 1.3 grams of cocaine came from, according to discovery documents the Tampa Bay Times received Tuesday through a public records request....

    Ryan Malone, who is facing charges of DUI and cocaine possession, could work out a plea deal as early as his next court date Aug. 19. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  12. Malone told police he didn't know where cocaine came from


    When a Tampa police officer pulled out a zip-lock bag of cocaine out of Ryan Malone's back pocket during an April 11 DUI arrest, the former Lightning wing was stunned.

    "Oh my God," he told officer Andrew Visser.

    Malone, 34, waived his Miranda rights and told Visser he didn't know where the 1.3 grams of cocaine came from, according to discovery documents the Tampa Bay Times received Tuesday through a public records request....

  13. Drouin, Vasilevskiy rated No. 1 prospects


    Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy are expected to play a big role in the team's future.

    And on Tuesday, both were ranked the No. 1 prospects in the NHL at their respective positions by's Corey Pronman.

    Drouin, drafted third overall in 2013, was rated the top skater for the second consecutive season by Pronman. He'll likely get his first opportunity to impact Tampa Bay this season, and should be on the Calder Trophy watch list....

    Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, left, and forward Jonathan Drouin, right, are ranked the No. 1 prospects in the NHL at their respective positions by's Corey Pronman.
  14. Lightning preseason tickets on sale


    With training camp nearly a month away, the Tampa Bay Lightning has put tickets for its three preseason home games on sale.

    Starting at 10 a.m. today (Tuesday), fans can go to, Ticketmaster, or call 1-800-745-3000. The Lightning will host Nashville Tues, Sept. 23, Dallas on Fri, Sept 26 and the Panthers on Sat. Oct 4.

    Tickets for regular season home games are expected to go on sale closer to training camp, which begins Sept. 18....

  15. Bishop faces shots for first time since surgery


    Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop faced shots last week for the first time since late April right wrist surgery, and it went well, according to general manager Steve Yzerman.

    "It felt good. Monday, Tuesday and today (Wednesday)," Bishop told Fox Sports Florida's Paul Kennedy. "I was a little apprehensive, and the wrist isn't 100 percent yet. But there was no real pain. The training staff, the coaches and I wanted to see how it was coming along. I would say I have to get about the last 10 percent healthy."...