Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer

Marc Topkin

Marc Topkin has covered baseball for the Times since 1987 — from the lengthy effort to secure a team, to the awarding of the Tampa Bay franchise in 1995, and through each of the Rays seasons starting in 1998. He has traveled throughout the United States with the team, as well as to Canada, Venezuela, Mexico and Japan, and has covered All-Star Games and the World Series, as well as Super Bowls and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Phone: (727) 893-8801

Email: topkin@tampabay.com

Blog: The Heater

Twitter: @TBTimes_Rays


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  1. Wil Myers feels confident in return to Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Wil Myers rejoined the Rays on Wednesday, the broken right wrist that sidelined him for 21/2 months healed, his sore left wrist rested and, perhaps biggest of all, his confidence restored.

    "The most important thing going forward for me," Myers said.

    In the 53 games before breaking the wrist May 30, Myers wasn't very good, hitting .227 with five homers, 25 RBIs and a .667 on-base plus slugging percentage, all well below his rookie-of-the-year showing the season before....

    Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Wil Myers (9) strikes out swinging in the bottom of the ninth inning, leaving designated hitter Logan Forsythe (10) on, to end the Oakland Athletics against the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The A's beat the Rays 3-2
  2. Rays: Comparing David Price, Drew Smyly

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Tigers

    When/where: 1:10 today; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Tickets: $16-$200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.19)

    TIGERS: LH David Price (12-8, 3.10)...

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Pitcher Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park during photo day on February 26, 2014 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  3. David Price not terribly eager to face Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As much as David Price enjoyed coming back to Tropicana Field to see his former teammates and good buddies, he isn't really excited about pitching against the Rays today.

    "I'm not looking forward to it," he said. "Pitching against friends is always the worst."

    As it turns out, the Rays aren't too keen on facing him, either, three weeks to the day since Price's trade to Detroit....

    Detroit Tigers' David Price smiles during a news conference before a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Price was traded from the Rays to the Tigers on July 31. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) SPD103
  4. Rays shut out by Tigers in fourth straight loss

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays need something to halt their latest skid that threatens to end any hopes of making September meaningful, much less making the playoffs. So maybe facing former ace David Price today somehow will turn out to be a good thing.

    They can't do much worse, getting three-hit by Rick Porcello in a 6-0 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday night that was their fourth straight defeat, dropping them eight games back in the race — if you can still call it that — for the second American League wild card....

    First baseman James Loney’s dive comes up short of Victor Martinez’s shot down the line in the first inning that gets into the rightfield corner and scores lumbering slugger Miguel Cabrera all the way from first base for a 1-0 Tigers lead.
  5. For starters, Rays vs. Tigers, seeking to snap a skid

    Blog

    UPDATE, 5:17: Ben Zobrist said he wondered at the time if there was something to Max Scherzer hitting him with a pitch in the first inning on Tuesday but after see Scherzer have control issues decided there was not; Maddon said pretty much the same. ... RHP Chris Archer said he was done in by the five walks as much as anything last night in letting a 4-0 lead get away, and he was more concerned about the one run he allowed in the sixth after getting the first two Tigers out than the three that scored in the fifth after 1B James Loney's error.
    ...

    Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays.
  6. Rays activate Myers, send down Belnome

    Blog

    The Rays activated OF Wil Myers from the disabled list today and sent INF Vince Belnome back to Triple-A.

    Myers has been out since May 30 with a broken right wrist. He has been on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Durham where in seven games he hit .250 (6-for-24) with two homers, six RBIs, seven walks and three steals.

    Belnome got his first major-league and RBI on Tuesday.

    To make room on the 40-man roster for Myers (who had been on the 60-day DL), Jerry Sands was moved from the 15- to the 60-day DL. Sands is out for the season after surgery....

    The Rays activated outfielder Wil Myers from the disabled list today.
  7. Archer, Rays blow 4-0 lead, lose to Tigers in 11

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A bad play by rookie rightfielder Kevin Kiermaier and a whole bunch of bad pitches by Grant Balfour doomed the Rays on Tuesday, as they lost another game they couldn't afford to, 8-6 to the Tigers in 11 innings.

    The go-ahead run scored on a bases-loaded walk by Balfour, his third of an inning that started with Kiermaier diving for and missing an Ian Kinsler line drive that ended up a triple, and, before it ended, saw the the Rays rally and even get the winning run to the plate....

    Rays rookie right fielder Kevin Kiermaier dives but can't come up with a triple by the Tigers' Ian Kinsler during the 11th inning. [Associated Press]
  8. Former Ray David Price still feels at home at Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — When David Price strolled into Tropicana Field shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday, he went right into the Rays clubhouse. Not by rote, not by accident, not surreptitiously.

    "I went through the front door," he said. "I went on purpose."

    Price has been a member of the Detroit Tigers team for 21 days now, but he'd been a Ray for the first seven years of his professional life, so there were people, dear friends actually, to see, to talk with, to hug, even to play a quick game of video hockey with. (He claimed he was rusty then beat Jake Odorizzi.)...

    David Price tips his cap to the crowd at his former home after watching a video tribute in the second inning.
  9. Video: David Price returns to Trop

    Blog

    Former Rays ace David Price returned to the Trop Tuesday for the first time since the July 31 trade; he will pitch against the Rays on Thursday,

     

  10. For starters, Rays vs. Tigers, with Price in the house

    Blog

    UPDATE, 5:08: OF Wil Myers is continuing his rehab assignment tonight in Triple-A Durham, but manager Joe Maddon said he could rejoin the Rays soon.

    OF David DeJesus and C Ryan Hanigan both took batting practice before the game. DeJesus said his left hand feels better after a few days off. He is expected to rejoin the Class A Stone Crabs tomorrow to resume his rehab work. Hanigan said he feels like he's finally "over the hump" and could begin playing rehab games in the next few days....

    David Price throwing a bullpen session today at the Trop
  11. Rays' lower-round draft picks had to work to get here

    The Heater

    Last week's third suspension, and potential last strike, for OF Josh Sale illustrates the challenge that the Rays, and other teams, face even with young players deemed worthy of a first-round selection and million-plus-dollar investments. Besides headaches from a holdout and the two drug and one disciplinary punishments, all the Rays have gotten after making Sale the 17th pick of the 2010 draft — ahead of Marlins OF Christian Yelich and Mets RHP prospect Noah Syndergaard, among others — and investing a $1.62 million bonus plus many thousands more in development costs is a .238 average and 11 home runs over 224 games no higher than the Class A level. And that stands in immense contrast to what they've gotten from their 31st-round pick that year, OF Kevin Kiermaier, and other low-round or undrafted players who were determined and dedicated to work their way to the big leagues. When Sale's latest suspension came down last week, Kiermaier had strong words, saying it's up to each player to make the right decisions, to control his own destiny and to do whatever he can to take advantage of "the greatest opportunity to play baseball for a living." Pretty much the way Kiermaier has. He signed for $75,000, hustled and played hard to work his way through each level of the minors, battled back from a lost 2012 season at advanced Class A Charlotte when he broke bones in both hands two months apart and refused to be derailed by anything or anybody.v"It's something I'll never forget — I was the 941st pick, and I use that as a chip on my shoulder," Kiermaier said. "When everyone says it's all about the opportunity, it might sound cliche, but it's true. And for me, I wanted to make the best of it....

    Rob Manfred, chosen to be the next MLB commissioner, listens to Bud Selig speak at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014. Manfred was chosen to be the next MLB commissioner, replacing Selig when he retires in January. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun/MCT) 1156163
  12. Gomes sent down, position player on way

    Blog

    With their bullpen stabilized after playing three extra-inning games in a five-day span, the Rays sent extra reliever RHP Brandon Gomes back to Triple-A Durham after Friday's game.

    A corresponding move, most likely to restore a fourth posiiton player to the bench, will be announced Saturday. INF Vince Belnome; newcomer INF Nick Franklin, acquired in the David Price trade; and Tim Beckham, recently activated off the DL would be among the possibilities....

  13. Rays pleased with Manfred election as commissioner

    Blog

    The election of Rob Manfred, the continuity candidate, as baseball's next commissioner seemed like good news for the Rays, especially given the alternative of Tom Werner and his big-market, Red-Sox tinged background.

    And that seemed to be pretty much how Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg took it.

    The Rays had been considered Manfred supporters, and Sternberg told the Tampa Bay Times they were pleased with his election.

    "We have been fortunate to work closely with Rob and his tremendous staff,'' Sternberg said. "His appointment as commissioner provides an exciting opportunity for us to do exciting things together which will grow the sport of baseball.''...

  14. Odorizzi, Rays beat Rangers

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Another strong start from Jake Odorizzi and home runs by Logan Forsythe and Evan Longoria led the Rays to a 6-3 victory over the Rangers on Thursday night.

    They wrapped up their country crossing road trip at 6-4, won the 10th of their past 12 series and got back within one game of .500 at 60-61, with a chance to become the fourth team ever to get back to even after being 18 or more games under....

    Rays rightfielder Ben Zobrist slides to catch a fly ball by the Rangers’ Elvis Andrus during the fifth inning.
  15. Rays: JFK history for Maddon; players return to youth days

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Yankees

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

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

    Promotion: Rays cooler as part of Tampa Bay Times ticket tandem; sold out.

    Probable pitchers...

    ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 29:  Brandon McCarthy #38 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 29, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)