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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

Email: topkin@tampabay.com

Blog: The Heater

Twitter: @TBTimes_Rays


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  1. Rays top draft pick Garrett Whitley has a blast on signing day

    Blog

    Rays top pick Garrett Whitley signed his contract, for a $2.96-million bonus, on Tuesday, then took batting practice with the team.

     

  2. Rays call up Guilmet, Riefenhauser to bolster bullpen

    Blog

    The latest shuffle to the Rays bullpen saw RHP Preston Guilmet and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser called up late Tuesday.

    The Rays needed two fresh arms after designating for assignment RHP Ronald Belisario and demoting RHP Kirby Yates to Triple-A.

    Both Guilmet and Riefenhauser were up earlier this season.

    At Durham, Guilmet had a 2.13 ERA in 11 games and Riefenhauser 3.75 in 10.

     ...

  3. Rays offense anemic again in loss to Indians (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' abysmal offensive showings are becoming perfectly normal.

    For the third time in six games, the Rays, incredibly, flirted with being on the wrong end of a perfect game, retired in order through the first five innings by Cleveland's Danny Salazar.

    Whatever moral victory there was in Asdrubal Cabrera drawing a walk to lead off the sixth, or in Curt Casali two batters later rapping the first of their season-low two hits, it was lost in another frustrating defeat, this time 6-2 Tuesday night....

    Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash (16) watching the action during the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, June 30, 2015.
  4. Rays shuffle bullpen again

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays shuffled their bullpen yet again after Tuesday's loss, designating for assignment veteran RHP Ronald Belisario and demoting RHP Kirby Yates.

    Because the Rays try to use their top relievers only when ahead, the other spots in the majors' most-used bullpen have been in flux. Late Tuesday, they called up RHP Preston Guilmet and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser....

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 29:  Ronald Belisario #56 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches during the ninth inning of a game against the Cleveland Indians on June 29, 2015 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) 538585101
  5. Rays-Indians preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Indians

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

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

    Tickets: $7-200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within five hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Alex Colome (3-3, 4.50)

    INDIANS: RH Carlos Carrasco (9-6, 4.16)...

    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 08:  Carlos Carrasco #59 of the Cleveland Indians pitches in th first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on April 8, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
  6. Rays sign top draft pick Garrett Whitley

    The Heater

    Rays sign top draft pick Garrett Whitley

    ST. PETERSBURG — After taking care of the business of signing for a $2.96 million bonus, top draft pick Garrett Whitley was eager to get on the field Tuesday and take batting practice with the Rays.

    The outfielder got advice on how to deal with the nerves from first-base coach Rocco Baldelli, encouragement from hitting coach Derek Shelton and a bat to use from Evan Longoria, all with his parents and younger siblings watching. Though he didn't hit a home run — "I wanted one" — he still had a blast....

    Tampa Bay Rays top draft pick Garrett Whitley, 18, talking with Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Marc Krauss (36) during batting practice after signing with the Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, June 30, 2015.
  7. Rays sign top draft pick Garrett Whitley

    Blog

    The Rays have signed top draft pick OF Garrett Whitley.

    Whitley, taken No. 13 overall, will join the Gulf Coast League team in Port Charlotte. His slot value is $2,962,100.

    "Garrett has all the tools we look for in a young prospect, both physically and mentally," Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison said in a release. "He has the tools to play center field and hit in the middle of a lineup, and has the potential to impact the game with his legs, bat and glove. On top of that, Garrett is an intelligent young man with a great mental foundation for playing our game. We are very excited to welcome him to the organization and get him started on his professional journey."

    As a senior at Niskayuna (N.Y.) High School, Whitley hit .351 with a .479 on-base percentage, 3 homers, 13 RBI and 24 runs, while going 15-for-15 in steals in 20 games. He also had a 3.84 grade point average, signing a national letter of intent to play at Wake Forest....

    Rays top draft pick Garrett Whitley, 18, center, of Niskayuna High School, signs his contract as Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison, left, Samantha Bireley, scouting administrator, right, and scout Tim Alexander, standing, watch Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
  8. For starters, Rays vs. Indians, trying to break out

    Blog

    Having lost six of their last eight games but still sharing the top spot in the AL East, the Rays take on the Indians again tonight.

    RHP Erasmo Ramirez, who skipped a turn in the rotation to let a groin strain heal, will be on the mound for the Rays, saying he is fully healthy. The Indians are starting RHP Danny Salazar, who last faced the Rays in the 2013 AL wild-card game.

    Jake Elmore is at first for the Rays tonight and Curt Casali behind the plate....

    Erasmo Ramirez, who skipped a turn in the rotation to let a groin strain heal, will be on the mound for the Rays, saying he is fully healthy.
  9. Rays struggles continue, lose 7-1 to Indians (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    With the lineups the injury-depleted Rays have run out some nights, it seems it could be just a matter of time before they get no-hit. They made it interesting again Monday, as for the second time in a week they were on the wrong end of a perfect game into the seventh inning.

    Grady Sizemore, of all people, saved them from the potential ignominy, breaking up Cleveland rookie Cody Anderson's bid for perfection with a one-out homer in the seventh inning of an otherwise unsuspenseful 7-1 loss....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Nathan Karns (51) after the top of the third inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cleveland Indians in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, June 29, 2015.
  10. Rays-Indians preview; Jaso dreadlocks

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Indians

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

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

    Tickets: $7-200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Erasmo Ramirez (6-2, 4.23)

    INDIANS: RH Danny Salazar (6-3, 4.06)...

    This is a 2015 photo of Danny Salazar the Cleveland Indians baseball team. This image reflects the Indians active roster as of Feb. 26, 2015, when this image was taken. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
  11. Matt Moore to rejoin Rays rotation Thursday

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — With a 35-pitch bullpen session Monday, LHP Matt Moore cleared the final hurdle in completing his recovery and rehab from April 2014 Tommy John surgery and will rejoin the Rays rotation Thursday.

    "Definitely ready to go," he said.

    As long as the road back has been, the 2013 All-Star said there are times when the 14 months feels like a blur.

    "To be back here finally knowing I don't have another plane ride or any more rehab starts feels good," he said. "I'm just happy to be back, and be back with the guys. That's the big thing, my teammates and wanting to contribute and be a part of what's going on here. The clubhouse and the dugout, that's probably been the hardest part missing out."...

    Left-hander Matt Moore, who was an All-Star in 2013, is set to make his first major-league start since having Tommy John surgery in April 2014.
  12. Matt Moore set to start Thursday for Rays

    Blog

    LHP Matt Moore is set to rejoin the Rays rotation on Thursday.

    Moore threw a 35 pitch bullpen on Monday at the Trop, the last hurdle to his return from April 2014 Tommy John surgery.

    "Definitely ready to go,'' Moore said.

    The Rays already made room in the rotation for Moore by optioning RHP Matt Andriese to Durham on Sunday. They will need to make room on the active roster for Moore, likely at the expense of a position player....

    Matt Moore threw a 35-pitch bullpen on Monday at the Trop, the last hurdle to his return from April 2014 Tommy John surgery.
  13. For starters, Rays vs. Indians, with Kiermaier back in lineup

    Blog

    UPDATE, 6:13: INF Alexi Casilla, who had been at Triple-A Durham, was traded to the Tigers for cash considerations. He joined Triple-A Toledo, which - conveniently - is hosting Durham tonight.

    UPDATE, 5:47: RHP Alex Cobb is heading to Arizona next week to spend the next six months rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He will work at a private facility, that comes highly recommended and approved by the Rays, so he can he get primary attention throughout the process.
    ...

    Kevin Kiermaier is back in the Rays lineup after a two-game absene, playing center field and batting leadoff.
  14. Injured starting pitchers nearing return for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — After months of figuring out how to fill out their injury-ravaged rotation, Rays officials are now facing a different — and much more enjoyable — problem in sorting out how to fit in their returning pitchers.

    RHP Erasmo Ramirez came through his Friday bullpen session with no issues from his groin strain and is set to start Tuesday.

    But it gets trickier after that as the team tries to align the planned returns of LHP Matt Moore, who is set to return this week, and RHP Jake Odorizzi, who expects to be back next week, and set up the rest of the rotation around them and decide whom to drop....

    Left-hander Matt Moore is expected to rejoin the Rays’ starting rotation this week after Saturday’s five-inning, 96-pitch rehab start for Triple-A Durham.
  15. Rays-Red Sox preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Red Sox

    When/where: 1:10 today; Tropicana Field

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

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

    Promotion: Retro tin lunch box for kids 14 and under, postgame KIDZ BOP concert.

    Probable pitchers...

    FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 01:  Justin Masterson #63 of the Boston Red Sox poses for a portrait on March 1, 2015 at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)