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. 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....

    Tampa Bay Rays first baseman James Loney (21) connects for a three run home run in the first inning during the Detroit Tigers at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, August 19, 2014.
  2. 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.
  3. Video: David Price returns to Trop


    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,


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


    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
  5. 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
  6. Gomes sent down, position player on way


    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....

  7. Rays pleased with Manfred election as commissioner


    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.''...

  8. 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.
  9. 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,, 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)
  10. Rays-Yankees Preview

    The Heater

    . up next

    vs. Yankees

    Tonight through Sunday

    What's new: In a season of constant roster shuffling, the Yankees have made a series of recent additions — 3B Chase Headley, INF/OF Martin Prado, INF Stephen Drew and Ps Brandon McCarthy and Rich Hill — while dumping INFs Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson. C Brian McCann (seven-day concussion) is the latest addition to a DL that includes Ps Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and David Phelps. They have lost four straight but are 14-11 since the All-Star break. Derek Jeter's march to retirement remains a major story line....

  11. Rays Maddon challenged by Bud Black to join ice bucket effort


    Rays manager Joe Maddon was challenged by Padres manager Bud Black - a former colleague in Anaheim - to join the latest program zipping around the sports world, the ice bucket challenge to help raise awareness for ALS.


  12. Wil Myers nearing return to Rays

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — OF Wil Myers could be back in the Rays lineup within the next week.

    Manager Joe Maddon said Myers, recovering from a broken right wrist, has done well enough in his first three rehab games at Triple-A Durham that he could rejoin the Rays during the series with Detroit, which starts Tuesday at the Trop.

    "He's getting closer, not far off," Maddon said. "The big thing is timing. … Primarily as soon as he feels like he's seeing the fastball well, he'll be ready."...

    Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Wil Myers (9), with a cast on his right wrist, during batting practice before the start of the Miami Marlins against the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field on Wednesday, June 4, 2014.
  13. For starters, Rays at Rangers, at the end of the road


    UPDATE, 5:59: CF Desmond Jennings said his left shoulder is still sore from his Tuesday night collision with the outfield wall but there are no major concerns - "I'm straight'' - and he expects to be back in the lineup Friday. ... 3B Evan Longoria said there are no health/injury issues behind him leaving Wednesday's game early and being the DH today, that both were Maddon's calls and happened to line up well in terms of a fly ball pitcher on the mound tonight in Odorizzi....

    The Rays will have Jake Odorizzi on the mound, and caught something of a break when Rangers ace Yu Darvish, who was scheduled to start, instead went on the DL with elbow inflammation.
  14. Chris Archer stellar, offense erupts as Rays rout Rangers

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Watching from the bed in his room at the team's Fort Worth hotel Tuesday as the Rays ran through their bullpen in what turned out to be a frustrating 14-inning loss, Chris Archer knew what he had to do Wednesday.

    So even when he got off to a rough start, walking the second and third hitters in the Texas lineup, he remained focused on executing pitches so he could get deep in the game....

    Matt Joyce slaps hands in the dugout after hitting a solo home run into the upper deck in right in the first inning.
  15. Rays: Cesar Ramos seventh Ray to issue walkoff walk

    The Heater

    Rays at Rangers

    When/where: 8:05 tonight; Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Jake Odorizzi (8-9, 3.89)

    RANGERS: LH Robbie Ross Jr. (2-4, 5.61)

    On Odorizzi: Rebounded from rough prior start to throw six shutout innings Saturday in Chicago. Ranks third in AL with average 10.20 Ks per nine innings. Threw six scoreless innings to beat Rangers in season debut....

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Pitcher Cesar Ramos #27 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)