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. Red Sox's David Ortiz might miss David Price's start

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Whether it was going to be a war as David Ortiz suggested or just another intense battle, tonight's anticipated rematch between still-Rays ace David Price and the Red Sox DH might not happen.

    Ortiz left Boston's Thursday loss in Toronto with what he said was a back spasm and is questionable for tonight's game, pending an afternoon exam.

    "Hopefully it's nothing serious," Ortiz said. "They want to make sure (today) I don't have the same feeling."...

    David Ortiz is questionable for tonight’s series opener at the Trop.
  2. Rays: Praise from Cardinals' Matheny; Curt Casali prepares for Trop

    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, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Promotion: Don Zimmer Snow Globe as part of Tampa Bay Times ticket tandem, proceeds to Rays Baseball Foundation....

    FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 23:  Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox poses for a portrait during Boston Red Sox Photo Day on February 23, 2014 at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  3. Rays-Red Sox preview

    The Heater

    up next

    Vs. Red Sox

    Tonight-Sunday

    What's new: After surging back into the fringe of the playoff race by winning eight of nine, the Red Sox lost three straight in Toronto, and didn't looked good in doing so. Plus, DH David Ortiz, who had been hot, left Thursday's game with a back spasm, and team officials said they have tabled contract talks with ace LHP Jon Lester until the offseason. Pitching continues to be their strength. OF Shane Victorino is back from the DL, and veteran C A.J. Pierzynski was recently cut loose....

  4. Trade Price? Tough call awaits Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — By winning as much as they have recently — 25 of 36 games, 16 of 20 and seven straight — the Rays have played themselves back into at least the conversation if not contention for a playoff spot.

    And their bosses into a bind.

    What six weeks ago seemed like a near certainty to trade ace David Price and possibly other veterans for young players has become a fascinating — and potentially excruciatingly difficult — decision to be made before next Thursday's trade deadline....

    David Price, who says he hopes to stay in Tampa Bay, is 6-1 with a 1.45 ERA in past seven starts.
  5. Alex Cobb, Rays shut out Cardinals for two-game sweep

    The Heater

    ST. LOUIS — What happened at the plate made Wednesday night memorable for Alex Cobb, as he dealt with the joy of doubling in a run on his first big-league hit and the agony of thinking his elbow was broken when hit by a pitch.

    But what he did on the mound was most significant, making a slight adjustment in pregame warmups that led back to his old form over seven sterling innings, and leading the Rays to a seventh straight win, 3-0 over the Cardinals....

    The Rays’ Matt Joyce slides in safely to beat Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams to the bag for an infield single in the third inning.
  6. Rays: Some brotherly love between Molinas

    The Heater

    Today: Off

    Next game: 7:10 p.m. Friday, vs. Red Sox

    Probable pitchers: Rays — LH David Price (10-7, 3.06); Red Sox — LH Jon Lester (10-7, 2.50)

    On deck

    Saturday: vs. Red Sox, 7:10. Rays — RH Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 2.08); Red Sox — RH John Lackey (11-6, 3.66)

    Sunday: vs. Red Sox, 1:40. Rays — RH Chris Archer (6-5, 3.31); Red Sox — RH Jake Peavy (1-9, 4.72)...

  7. Rays shut out in lottery for extra draft picks

    The Heater

    ST. LOUIS — Major League Baseball instituted a competitive balance lottery in 2012 to award additional draft picks to help small-market and low-revenue teams.

    And for the second time in three years, the Rays — who rank among the smallest and the lowest — were shut out while teams that don't seem to be either, such as the Cardinals, Orioles and Rockies, won extra picks.

    "There are obvious flaws with this draft lottery,'' Rays president Matt Silverman said. "If it were better constructed, it would only scratch at the surface of the competitive balance issues plaguing baseball. For the long-term health of our game, we must confront these issues. We have been and will continue to be vocal advocates for meaningful change.''...

  8. For starters, Rays at Cardinals, seeking another sweep

    Blog

    UPDATE, 6:11: Maddon said RHP Jeremy Hellickson will rejoin the rotation on Saturday, with RHP Chris Archer making his next start on Sunday. ... The Rays will have to make a roster move to accomodate Hellickson's return, with LHP Erik Bedard seemingly most likely to go. ... With a win tonight the Rays would have their first undefeated multi-city road trip in team history.

    Cardinals lineup:
    Carpenter 3b
    Wong 2b
    Holliday lf
    Adams 1b
    Peralta ss
    Taveras rf
    Jay cf
    Cruz c
    Lynn p

    UPDATE, 3:46: The Rays were shutout in MLB's Competitive Balance Lottery, which is designed to help smaller-market/lower revenue teams by giving them extra draft picks. The Cardinals, Rockies and Orioles were among the teams that did get extra picks for 2015....

    Rays manager Joe Maddon is sticking with his plan of having the pitcher bat eighth, sliding Alex Cobb into that spot and RF Kevin Kiermaier into the ninth position.
  9. Rays' Joel Peralta heads to DL

    The Heater

    ST. LOUIS — Veteran reliever Joel Peralta was placed on the disabled list and sent back to St. Petersburg for blood work testing to confirm that he has the chikungunya virus as his symptoms indicate.

    Peralta returned from spending the All-Star break in his native Dominican Republic with a fever, achiness in his joints and a rash, leading to the initial diagnosis of the virus, which is contracted via mosquitoes in Caribbean countries....

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Joel Peralta (62) throwing in the eighth inning of the Kansas City Royals at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, July 8, 2014.
  10. Rays: Maddon plays NL ball, bats pitcher eighth

    The Heater

    Rays at Cardinals

    When/where: 7:15 tonight; Busch Stadium, St. Louis

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

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Alex Cobb (5-6, 4.08)

    CARDS: RH Lance Lynn (11-6, 3.13)

    On Cobb: Worked into the sixth on Friday in post-break opening win over Twins. Is 3-0 over past four starts despite a 4.03 ERA. Has never faced Cards, is 5-3, 3.83 in 10 interleague starts....

    St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn celebrates after striking out Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp with the bases loaded to end the top of the third inning of a baseball game Friday, July 18, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) MOJR106
  11. Streaking Rays batter Wainwright, Cardinals

    The Heater

    ST. LOUIS — Jake Odorizzi had plenty of reasons to be excited about starting Tuesday's game. And it showed as he gave up a home run to the first batter, walked the second and seemed fortunate to escape the opening frame allowing only one run.

    But then it turned into a truly memorable night, as Odorizzi outpitched Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright (who ended up in a yelling match with Rays manager Joe Maddon) — and picked up his first professional RBI — as the Rays rolled to a season-high sixth straight win, 7-2....

    Evan Longoria rounds the bases after homering off Cardinals reliever Jason Motte to give the Rays a 7-2 lead in the ninth.
  12. Cardinals fans show curiosity about Rays' David Price

    The Heater

    ST. LOUIS — About 10 Rays walked over to Busch Stadium on Sunday night for the rare opportunity to sit in the stands and watch a big-league game as they took in the final few innings of the Cardinals-Dodgers game.

    But it was the presence of LHP David Price that created the most buzz, given the speculation that the Cardinals are among the teams most interested in trading for him....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) in the first inning of the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.
  13. Peralta to DL, Beliveau recalled

    Blog

    UPDATE, 5:57: Peralta was sent back to St. Petersburg to be seen by team physician Dr. Michael Reilly, and to have bloodwork done to confirm that he has the chikungunya virus. Governmental health departments and the CDC are tracking such cases. The virus is not contagious nor treatable, with the symptoms - fever, tiredness, achiness and rash - lasting 7-10 days.

    DEVELOPING: The Rays placed RHP Joel Peralta on the disabled list as he deals with the tiredness and achiness from the chikungunya virus, which he believes he contracted when bitten by a mosquito during the All-Star break in the Dominican Republic....

  14. For starters, Rays at Cardinals, seeking six, with Odorizzi eighth

    Blog

    UPDATE, 7:47: Maddon said he had several reasons to bat Odorizzi eighth, primarily because it allowed for the the possibility of pinch-hitting sooner and to keep Kiermaier hitting in front of leadoff man Desmond Jennings. ... The Rays announced David Price will start Friday against Boston but have not set the rest of the weekend rotation, with Jeremy Hellickson expected to come back from the minors and start one of the two games. 
    ...

    Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays, pitching before what is likely to be hundreds of relatives and friends making the 30-some mile drive him his hometown of Highland, Ill.
  15. Rays' Odorizzi excited to pitch against hometown team

    The Heater

    ST. LOUIS — Growing up 30 miles outside of St. Louis, religiously watching every Cardinals game either in the stands or in front of the TV, Jake Odorizzi had the same dream as thousands of other young Midwestern boys: to someday play baseball at Busch Stadium.

    And tonight he will, starting for the Rays against those Cardinals.

    "I think everybody else was thinking the exact same thing," Odorizzi said. "I'm just lucky I had the opportunity and that I'm able to do it. I wanted it, and it's come true."...

    Rays rookie starter Jake Odorizzi grew up 30 miles outside of St. Louis and rooted for the team that he’s scheduled to face tonight at Busch Stadium.