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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' Steven Souza Jr. heads to DL with hand fracture

    The Heater

    BOSTON — As if losing another frustrating, mistake-marred game —11-7 Saturday to the Red Sox —wasn't bad enough, the Rays lost another key part of their lineup.

    OF Steven Souza Jr. is headed back to the disabled list after his left hand was fractured when he was hit by a Joe Kelly pitch.

    To replace Souza, the Rays will recall OF Mikie Mahtook, who was called up Friday, got two hits and was sent down after the game. Because there is a DL move involved, Mahtook doesn't have to spend the usual 10 days in the minors before being recalled....

    Steven Souza Jr. is headed to the disabled list with a left hand fracture after being hit by a pitch.
  2. Rays-Red Sox preview

    The Heater

    Rays at Red Sox

    When/where: 1:35 today; Fenway Park, Boston

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

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Jake Odorizzi (5-6, 2.85)

    RED SOX: LH Wade Miley (8-9, 4.65)

    On Odorizzi: Coming off solid six-inning, one-run outing vs. Tigers. Is 2-1, 3.86 in four starts since returning from DL, missing a month with oblique strain. Is 2-2, 3.36 in seven starts vs. Red Sox; 1-2, 5.68 in four at Fenway....

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Jake Odorizzi #23 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a photo on photo day at Charlotte Sports Park on February 27, 2015 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  3. Rays Tales: Get to know catcher Curt Casali

    The Heater

    The Rays over their 18 seasons have used 29 catchers, running the gamut from Ali Solis to Gregg Zaun, with a lot of Toby Hall — behind the plate a franchise-most 578 times — in the middle. Plus a quick 2005 cameo by current manager Kevin Cash.

    Worth pondering is whether the latest, Curt Casali, could turn out to be one of their greatest....

    Associated Press
  4. Matt Moore to be optioned to Triple-A


    LHP Matt Moore will be optioned to Triple-A by the Rays.

    Moore struggled again on Saturday, lasting only 3 innings against the Red Sox, and is 1-3, 8.78 ERA in six games since coming off the disabled list following April 2014 Tommy John surgery.

    With several off-days in their schedule, the Rays will use a four-man rotation for now.

    The plan is for Moore to get his innings in without impacting the big-league team, which is trying to stay in the AL wild-card race....

  5. Souza goes on DL with fractured left hand


    OF Steven Souza Jr. is headed back to the disabled list after X-rays showed a fracture in his left hand after being hit by a pitch on Saturday.

    Souza was hit by a Joe Kelly pitch in the fifth inning and went to the ground in pain, but after some attention from the athletic training staff stayed in the game. But the pain increased as he left the game in the sixth and went for X-rays which revealed the fracture....

  6. Matt Moore headed to minors after Rays lose to Red Sox

    The Heater

    BOSTON — The Rays decided they had seen enough of Matt Moore for now as well.

    The struggling left-hander will be optioned to Triple-A Durham after another rough outing Saturday in his return from April 2014 Tommy John surgery, lasting only three innings in an 11-7 loss to the Red Sox.

    In six starts since coming off the disabled list, Moore is 1-3 with an 8.78 ERA without working more than five innings in a game. He has allowed 58 of the 132 batters he has faced in 262/3 innings to reach base....

    Matt Moore is 1-3 with an 8.78 ERA in six starts this season.
  7. Moore struggles again, Rays lose again, 11-7 to Sox


      BOSTON - Another ragged start by Matt Moore put the Rays in an early hole Saturday as they lost to the Red Sox 11-7.

       Moore, in his sixth outing since returning from April 2014 Tommy John surgery, allowed six runs while lasting only three innings. Of the 19 batters he faced, 10 reached base, and several of the nine he got out hit the ball quite hard and somewhat far.

       In six starts, Moore is now 1-3 with an 8.78 ERA.

        Down 6-0, the Rays (51-54 overall), battled back to within 6-4 and then to 7-6, but reliever Steve Geltz allowed the Red Sox to tag on two runs in the sixth.

       Geltz walked David Ortiz to start the inning and Travis Shaw with two outs, threw a wild pitch that advanced the runners then allowed a single to Rusney Castillo that scored two.

        The Rays, as usual, did not convert on several scoring opportunities.

        Their most glaring mistake came in the top of the sixth. Down 7-4, they got one run when Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a double and Kevin Kiermaier singled him in. Kiermaier got to second on a wild pitch and then John Jaso walked with one out.

        Kiermaier then made an aggressive mistake, breaking to steal third and getting thrown out. The Rays challenged the call as it looked like Kiermaier may have gotten his hand around the tag, as the replay was shown on the video board Kiermaier stood on third flashing a safe sign. But it proved to be only wishful thinking as the replay officials said the call stood, and he was out.

       That became a bigger deal when Brandon Guyer, pinch-hitting for Steven Souza Jr., who left the game with a bruised left hand, laced a double. Rather than two runs, the Rays got only one, Jaso scoring from first, and 7-6 was as close as they got.

       Travis Shaw hit a two-run homer off Kirby Yates in the eighth, his second of a memorable day.

      The Rays wrap up the series with the Red Sox on Sunday at 1:35 p.m., with Jake Odorizzi on the mound against Sox lefty Wade Miley.


  8. For starters, Rays at Red Sox, with Moore on the mound


    UPDATE, 12:24: The Rays revealed a change they made in their pitching rotation, with RHP Jake Odorizzi now starting on Sunday vs. the Red Sox and RHP Nathan Karns on Monday at Chicago. Manager Kevin Cash said the change was made for several reasons - giving Karns an extra day's rest, keeping Odorizzi on a five-day schedule, having better matchups going forward. Also, it separates Odorizzi and RHP Chris Archer in the rotation....

  9. Sloppy all around, Rays fall to Red Sox

    The Heater

    BOSTON — If the Rays keep playing like this, arguing over whether they should have done more at the trade deadline won't be worth a spit.

    Another sloppy and mistake-filled performance Friday resulted in a 7-5 loss to the last-place Red Sox as the Rays finished July with a majors-worst 9-16 record and dropped to 51-53 overall.

    "We need to get back to playing our style of baseball," manager Kevin Cash said. "Without a doubt, we need to go, we need to go now, and we need to play clean baseball while we're doing it."...

    The Rays’ Mikie Mahtook slides home on a two-run double by John Jaso as Blake Swihart waits for the throw in the seventh.
  10. Rays-Red Sox preview

    The Heater

    Rays at Red Sox

    When/where: 1:35 today, Fenway Park, Boston

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

    Probable pitchers

    rays: LH Matt Moore (1-2, 7.61)

    red sox: RH Joe Kelly (2-6, 5.74)

    On Moore: Worked five full innings for second time in 5 starts since return from Tommy John surgery. Is averaging nearly 18 pitches per inning. Is 2-2, 3.86 in 5 starts vs. Red Sox....

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Matt Moore #55 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a photo on photo day at Charlotte Sports Park on February 27, 2015 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  11. With Jepsen gone, same Rays approach with bullpen

    The Heater

    BOSTON — Friday's trade of veteran reliever RHP Kevin Jepsen to the Twins created a significant void in the Rays bullpen. But it won't have a significant impact on how the Rays use their relievers.

    RHP Steve Geltz is most likely to inherit Jepsen's high-leverage innings, with LHP Xavier Cedeno, RHP Brandon Gomes and even RHP Alex Colome also getting more responsibility. Also, RHP Kirby Yates, who was called up to fill the open spot....

    Steve Geltz will likely take on more high-leverage innings for the Rays now that reliever Kevin Jepsen has been traded to the Twins.
  12. Rays deal Jepsen, otherwise stand pat at trade deadline

    The Heater

    BOSTON — Rather than add to an offense that ranks among the American League's worst, the only deal the Rays made by Friday's nonwaiver deadline was to trade one of their top relievers, Kevin Jepsen, to the Twins for a pair of lower-level minor-league pitchers.

    Baseball operations president Matt Silverman said extensive talks led to possibilities — plural — of acquiring hitting, but they felt they were better off with the group they have, and were confident — if those players perform better — they can remain in contention for a playoff spot....

    Rays reliever Kevin Jepsen is dealt to the Twins for two minor-league pitchers.
  13. For starters, Rays at Red Sox, on trade day


    UPDATE, 5:49: Baseball ops president Matt Silverman said they looked at some possibilities of adding bats but there were "no glaring holes" in their lineup that they could fill at the deadline. ... He also acknowledged the "dynamics were odd" in trading Jepsen to a team they were chasing in the wild-card race but said that was the case in several of their conversations. ....  Several Rays said they were disappointed to see Jepsen go but they understood it was a business. .. Cash said they will use several relievers to fill his role, with Geltz and Gomes seemingly the most likely, and that he won't use the bullpen any differently, meaning McGee could still pitch in the 7th if matchups dictate and Boxberger in the 8th. ... Yates will also get some opportunities.

    Erasmo Ramirez will be on the mound for the Rays. [Jon Blacker/The Canadian Press via AP]
  14. Trade deadline update: Jepsen traded to Twins for 2 minor-league pitchers


    UPDATE, 4:01: There were no other deals for the Rays by the 4 p.m. deadline.

    UPDATE, 3:30: Jepsen said he was surprised to be dealt, and even more surprised to go to a team the Rays are competing with for a playoff spot:

    "You hear the rumors and stuff like that that your name is out there about being traded, but when it actually happens, it sinks in,'' Jepsen said.

    "In the off-season when I got traded (from the Angels to the Rays) it was a little easier because I had a couple months to get ready and head to spring training. This is during the season, I'm about to catch a flight and head to Minnesota.

    "It's fun and it's nice to be wanted, a team that's in it, in the hunt. And they're looking to fill in some pieces that I could hopefully help with and be in the playoffs at the end of the year.''...

    The Rays have enough depth in pitching to at least listen, and were said to be discussing starter RHP Nathan Karns and reliever RHP Kevin Jepsen, pictured, among others
  15. Karns, Jepsen are hot topics in Rays trade talks

    The Heater

    BOSTON — The Rays have several decisions to finalize today.

    Trade discussions are at the forefront, as after "lots of talks" over the past several days they are down to the final hours before today's 4 p.m. deadline for nonwaiver trades.

    There were indications Thursday they were in listening mode on several of their pitchers, including RH Nathan Karns, who seemed to be a popular topic of conversation based on his 6-5, 3.37 mark through 20 games in his rookie season....

    Rays reliever Kevin Jepsen seems a likely candidate to be involved in a deal, with the trade deadline this afternoon.