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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


Blog: The Heater

Twitter: @TBTimes_Rays

  1. Rays look to boost offense without sacrificing pitching, defense

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Of all the numbers generated, crunched and sabermetricized throughout a baseball season, the most telling from the Rays' disappointing year might be a single digit:


    That was the margin between the runs they scored (644) and the runs they allowed (642). And that was the difference between being in the playoffs and sitting in the Trop on Tuesday talking about what might have been. And that will be their primary area of concentration for their offseason plans....

    Kevin Cash, left, and Matt Silverman are on the same page in their pursuit of a stronger lineup.
  2. Rays' 2016 shortstop candidates lack experience

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — With free agent SS Asdrubal Cabrera headed elsewhere, the Rays will look primarily at internal candidates Tim Beckham and Nick Franklin to step into the role.

    But they may have to make that decision without knowing if either is ready to play every day because they haven't seen them play enough, a conundrum that can't be readily solved.

    "It's a good question," manager Kevin Cash said. "If they are, they've got to get consistent real quick, and that comes with consistent playing time. As an organization, we have to find out about that. But to say one's ready or not, that's kind of difficult given the sporadic playing time. We like a lot of the things they do at times....

    Tim Beckham started 22 games at shortstop this season as a rookie but could be asked to handle everyday duties in 2016.
  3. Disappointed Rays see busy off-season, bright future ahead


    Rays baseball operations president Matt Silverman and manager Kevin Cash wrapped up what both called a disappointing 80-82 season today with a media session at the Trop.

    "Anytime we're sitting here before you guys and not talking about a postseason series, it's a disappointment,'' Silverman said. "We came into spring training believing we had a team that would compete for the playoffs and possibly extend our season deep into the playoffs, and that didn't happen. There are a number of reasons for that.''...

    Rays manager Kevin Cash, during an end of season press conference Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
  4. Rays have options for offseason improvement

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon sat behind the microphones after the Rays ended their 2014 season with a disappointing losing record and spoke predictably optimistically about the prospects for improvement. By the end of the month, both had bailed for new gigs.

    Matt Silverman and Kevin Cash will sit behind the microphones today after the Rays ended their 2015 season with a disappointing losing record and speak predictably optimistically about the future. If nothing else, their words should be more lasting....

    Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Logan Forsythe (11) with an RBI single ties it up in the eighth inning of the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015.
  5. Rays milestones, season leaders

    The Heater


    • RHP Brad Boxberger led the AL with 41 saves, joining Rafael Soriano as the only Rays to do so.

    • 3B Evan Longoria played in at least 160 games for the third straight season. His 482 in that span lead the majors. Per the Rays, the last big-leaguer to play 160-plus in three straight seasons primarily as a third baseman was Pete Rose in 1975-77....

  6. Rays have some reasons for optimism for 2016

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sunday's 12-3 bashing of the Blue Jays allowed the Rays to finish with consolation prizes of reaching 80 wins and avoiding last place in the American League East.

    The bigger goal, of course, is getting to the playoffs. Thus, the larger question is how much they have to improve to get there.

    "We do not think we're far at all," manager Kevin Cash said.

    Amid the disappointment of a losing record in their first season under new management, the Rays have several legitimate reasons to be encouraged about 2016, such as:...

    Mikie Mahtook, high-fiving Brandon Guyer after a homer, is one of several rookies who got a long look this season.
  7. Rays blow out Blue Jays, avoid last place

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays put a good finish on their disappointing season with a 12-3 win Sunday over the Blue Jays that left them in fourth place in the American League East with an 80-82 record.

    "Eighty sounds a lot better than 79," manager Kevin Cash said.

    The Rays won five of their last six to get there, but that didn't erase the struggles they had during the season, a combination of injuries, inconsistent performances and lack of depth ultimately catching up to them....

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Joey Butler (9) watches his two run home run sail over the wall in the fifth inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015.
  8. For starters, Rays vs. Blue Jays in the finale


    UPDATE, 2:18: Buehrle will start for the Jays. ... Cash said Forsythe won't play though he had additional testing done on his foot and it is no worse than a break. ... He said Kiermaier (back) may be available off the bench. ... Cash reiterated there was no injury issue with Archer - "none whatsoever" - and Archer said the same thing, that he feels the same way he does after a start and the only issue was fatigue....

  9. Rays-Blue Jays preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Blue Jays

    When/where: 3:10 today, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 1250-AM, 1550-AM (Spanish)

    Tickets: $7-$275, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster,, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Promotion: Raymond Halloween mask for kids 14 and under

    Probable pitchers...

  10. Rays new brain trust learns some hard lessons

    The Heater


    Nathan Karns was absolutely dealing in that May 3 Sunday matinee against the Orioles, zipping through five innings while allowing two singles and a walk and needing 66 pitches to get there. The Rays were leading 2-0, and there was no reason for anyone in the building to think the 27-year-old rookie wouldn't head back to the mound for the sixth.

    But in the Rays dugout, first-year manager Kevin Cash saw it differently. He had to. His bosses had developed a strategy to maximize the contributions of the replacements in their injury-ravaged rotation. A key element was pulling the starters before they went through the opposing lineup a third time if they had a lead so they could put the game in the hands of their more experienced bullpen....

    Kevin Cash, left, and baseball Matt Silverman chat during spring training, just before an eventful first season running the Rays.
  11. Archer exits early as Rays beat Blue Jays (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Chris Archer insisted he didn't feel anything wrong in making a premature exit after five innings from Saturday's game: "I just didn't feel like myself."

    That was a relief for the Rays, and there was excitement to follow, as 2B Tim Beckham delivered a two-run bases-loaded single with two outs in the ninth to give them a 4-3 walkoff win over the Blue Jays....

    Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash (16) in the dugout during the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015.
  12. Rays Tales: Reviewing a disappointing but interesting season

    The Heater

    The Rays' first season under new management ends today in disappointment with a second straight losing record, not particularly successful but certainly interesting as they navigated a seemingly endless string of injuries, with 26 disabled list stints, and 145 roster moves. Here is a look at some of the highs and lows:

    Most Valuable Ray

    Kevin Kiermaier's play in centerfield was outstanding and breathtaking, and his improvements at the plate allowed him to become an everyday player. 3B Evan Longoria battled through several rough stretches to finish with solid numbers, leading the team with 21 homers and 73 RBIs. RHP Chris Archer stepped to the front of the rotation when other top starters were injured and turned into an All-Star and an ace. ...

    Logan Forsythe has excelled across the board.
  13. For starters, Rays vs. Blue Jays, on Archer day


    After losing the chance to finish .500 with Friday's loss, the Rays take the field tonight hoping to put a solid finish on All-Star ace RHP Chris Archer's solid season.

    Archer was roughed up by the Jays in his last outing last Saturday and said he wants to end his season on a better note, as he makes his 34th start.

    2B Logan Forsythe is again not in the lineup, sidelined since being hit by a pitch on his right foot Tuesday.

    Here is the Rays lineup:
    Jaso lf,
    Sizemore dh,
    Longoria 3b,
    Cabrera ss,
    Souza rf,
    Loney 1b,
    Beckham 2b,
    Kiermaier cf,
    Rivera c,
    Archer p...

  14. Rays fall to Jays, ensure losing record

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays lost the chance to finish with a .500 record when they lost to the Jays 8-4 Friday.

    At 78-82, the Rays are ensured of a second straight losing season and increased the possibility of finishing last in the American League East.

    Manager Kevin Cash was more concerned with how it happened, noting misplayed balls by rookie OFs Joey Butler and Mikie Mahtook and 1B Richie Shaffer getting picked off first....

    Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Logan Forsythe (11) is announced as the recipient of the Don Zimmer MVP Award for the 2015 season by members of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America before the start of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015.
  15. Rays-Blue Jays Saturday preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Blue Jays

    When/where: 6:10 tonight, Tropicana Field

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

    Tickets: $7-275, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster,, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Promotion: Rays Oktoberfest freezer mug for all fans, Steve Aoki postgame concert....