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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. Rocco Baldelli thrilled to be back on field with Rays

    The Heater

    Rays baseball operations chief Matt Silverman has made some bold moves this offseason, hiring first-time manager Kevin Cash, trading Wil Myers after parts of just two seasons and going against conventional logic by not adding a bench coach with big-league managing experience.

    But adding Rocco Baldelli to the coaching staff? That just made sense.

    After a playing career cut short by injury and a mysterious energy-sapping illness, Baldelli, 33, had spent the past four seasons working in the Rays' front office, scouting amateurs, evaluating pros, analyzing data and observing spring training....

    SP_329173_BORC_rays_5 (10/07/10) (St. Petersburg, FL) Rocco Baldelli holds a press conference before the Tampa Bay Rays game against the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field Thursday, Oct. 07, 2010.     [JAMES BORCHUCK, Times]
  2. Rays add Charlie Montoyo, Rocco Baldelli to coaching staff

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — To ease the transition for Kevin Cash in his first managing job, the Rays could have hired a coach or two with experience as a big-league skipper.

    Instead, they decided it would be better to surround Cash with familiar faces, naming longtime third-base coach Tom Foley his bench coach and adding Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo and former player Rocco Baldelli to the staff....

    Rocco Baldelli, left, replaces George Hendrick as first-base coach, saying he is excited to join new coach Kevin Cash’s staff.
  3. Wil Myers trade haul buoys Rays' optimism

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Trading young slugger Wil Myers and catcher Ryan Hanigan were the latest in what has been a flurry of Rays moves, baseball operations president Matt Silverman joking Friday they were "testing the definition of tweak," which was the buzzword for their plans heading into the off­season.

    But in getting new starting catcher Rene Rivera and promising power-hitting outfielder Steven Souza to highlight a five-player return in the deal made official Friday, Silverman maintained they have "a better club this year and going forward" and — despite skepticism around the game — at least as good of a chance, if not enhanced, of getting back to the playoffs....

    Steven Souza could replace Wil Myers in the Rays' lineup. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Rays deal to trade Myers now official, Gomes DFA'd


    The 11-player, three-team deal that sent Wil Myers and Ryan Hanigan (briefly) to San Diego and brought the Rays five players in return from the Padres and Nationals is now official.

    The Rays get a new starting catcher in Rene Rivera, a promising power-hitting outfielder in Steven Souza Jr.. starting pitching depth in RHP Burch Smith and two young prospects, 1B Jake Bauers and LHP.

    "This is a baseball trade, and one we believe will make our club more competitive both for 2015 and beyond," baseball ops president Matt Silverman said in a statement. "Trading Wil Myers was not an easy decision, but we are very excited about the talent coming back our way, and this deal has potential to improve our team on both sides of the ball."...

  5. Rays' Matt Silverman: Talks with St. Petersburg will continue despite failed vote on stadium deal

    Local Government

    UPDATE 2:20 p.m.: Matt Silverman, baseball operations president for the Tampa Bay Rays, said Friday afternoon there is "good momentum" toward reaching stadium deal, despite a failed City Council vote.

    Silverman said he expects talks with the city to continue "as we work toward an agreeable outcome."


    ST. PETERSBURG — The morning after the Tampa Bays Rays lost a huge opportunity to explore new stadium sites in Tampa, the man whose question led to a meltdown in City Council chambers and squelched the deal offered some advice. ...

    Matt Silverman, baseball operations president for the Tampa Bay Rays, said Friday afternoon there is "good momentum" toward reaching stadium deal, despite Thursday's failed City Council vote. [Times]
  6. Rays add Montoyo and Baldelli to staff, make Foley bench coach


    The Rays completed new manager Kevin Cash's coaching crew by shifting Tom Foley from 3B to bench coach and adding Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo and former player/special assistant Rocco Baldelli to the staff.

    Montoyo will take over at third base, with Baldelli manning first base. Former first base coach George Hendrick will become a special advisor.

    The rest of the coaching staff will return: pitching coach Jim Hickey, hitting coach Derek Shelton, bullpen coach Stan Boroski and assistant hitting/catching coach Jamie Nelson....

  7. No obstacles as Rays work to finalize Wil Myers trade

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The names will remain the same, but it was taking until this morning to finalize the 11-player, three-team trade that will send Wil Myers and Ryan Hanigan to San Diego and bring the Rays five players in return.

    The deal was agreed to Wednesday afternoon, but formal completion and the announcement of it was delayed Thursday as the Padres, who had several other deals going, finalized language over aspects of the trade with the Nationals....

    A subpar second season had the Rays gauging interest in Wil Myers, and they found enough value for the 2013 AL rookie of the year to deal him.
  8. Rays, Pet Pal offering another Players and Pooches calendar


    Adding to your last-minute gift ideas, the Rays and Pet Pal Animal Shelter have teamed up for another Player and Pooches calender, available starting Monday for $20 at the team Tampa store, Pet Pal Centers in St. Petersburg or via mail by calling (813) 228-7157.

    The full-color 15-month calendar features photos of Rays players (and a couple of former Rays) with their dogs or one from the no-kill shelter....

    Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier and a dog from the Pet Pal Shelter
  9. Rays agree to trade Wil Myers in 11-player, three-team deal

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays had hoped to see more out of Wil Myers after a disappointing second season. Instead they decided they had seen enough of him.

    The Rays have a deal in place to trade Myers, the 2013 American League rookie of the year, and starting catcher Ryan Hanigan to San Diego as part of an 11-player, three-team trade that, pending medical reviews, is expected to be announced today....

    Matt Silverman has been busy remaking the Rays since taking over in October.
  10. UPDATED: Rays-Padres-Nationals deal in place, pending medical exams


    UPDATE, 6:23: The deal appears to be in place, pending medical exams, as players are being notified, though it has not been announced. Based on what we've heard and several media reports, it ends up looking like this, with 11 players and three teams involved.

    The Rays give up: OF Wil Myers, C Ryan Hanigan and, per ESPN, two low-end minor-leaguers, LHP Jose Castillo and RHP Gerardo Reyes....

    Wil Myers, 24, was a popular topic of discussion at the winter meetings in San Diego, as five-six teams called about him, and obviously those discussions continued.
  11. With McGee injured, Rays deal Joyce for Angels reliever

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The discomfort that Rays closer Jake McGee felt in his left elbow last week turned out to be a real pain.

    Enough that McGee had arthroscopic surgery Friday to remove "a big bone spur" that will sideline him at least into May. And enough for the Rays to proceed with a long-discussed trade of extraneous outfielder Matt Joyce — a Tampa native — to get a late-inning reliever to help fill the void, acquiring Kevin Jepsen from the Angels....

    Jake McGee, a dominant short man for the Rays last season, had surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow.
  12. McGee out through April after surgery, Rays trade Joyce for reliever Jepsen


    UPDATE, 3:29: McGee said he expects to be back in late April or early May. He was working out when he felt something in his elbow and noticed it was swelling, that an MRI showed "pretty much a big bone spur" had moved behind his elbow and he had surgery performed by Dr. Koco Eaton. "It was pretty disappointing to get that report,'' he said.

    McGee said it wasn't an issue last season, and that the spur could have moved at any time so he is glad it wasn't during the season. "It's a little setback, not a huge one,'' McGee said....

    The Rays acquired reliever Kevin Jepsen from the Angels in trade for Matt Joyce, pictured.
  13. Rays lending hands by serving Thanksmas meals


    Current and former Rays players, coaches, broadcasters and staff are spending the week serving Thanksmas meals to needy families and individuals around the Tampa Bay area, including stops Tuesday at Salvation Army centers in St. Petersburg and Tampa.

    The program - now called Rays Thanksmas after the departure of manager Joe Maddon - continues to be an important event for the centers. More than 130 citizens were served a hot meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes and green beans, plus cake and soda, on Tuesday in St. Petersburg, and each got a Rays Thanksmas sweatshirt as a parting gift....

    Rays P Alex Cobb and 3B coach Tom Foley serve hot meals on Tuesday at the St. Petersburg Salvation Army center.
  14. Kevin Cash introduced as Rays manager

    The Heater


    Kevin Cash has been making plenty of introductions.

    Calling Rays players and coaches. Meeting staff and putting faces with names. Winding his way through a Monday maze of a formal news conference, several TV interviews, a photoshoot where he got to briefly swap the blue jacket for his No. 16 jersey, then an informal Q-and-A session in the dugout.

    Finally, his new job as manager of the Rays will start to be about managing the Rays....

    Rays manager Kevin Cash, left, with team president Matt Silverman, holds up the jersey that he’s all too eager to slip on.
  15. Kevin Cash ready to get to work as new Rays manager


    Kevin Cash got to slip off his suit coat and pull on his No. 16 jersey briefly during Monday's news conference as new manager of the Rays. And by the time was finished with the latest round of interviews at Tropicana Field, he made it clear he is ready to ditch the fancy threads and get down to managing.

    "It's go time now,'' Cash said.

    Cash, 37, was hired Dec. 5, but Monday was his formal introduction to the Tampa Bay area. And given that he was born, raised and spent most of his pro career living in Tampa, it was as much a family reunion as anything, with more than a dozen relatives on hand, including his mom, dad and brother, plus his wife and three kids.

    "It's an incredible honor to be named a major-league manager, and I don't think you can quantify getting to do that in your home town,'' Cash said. "It's incredibly special. And a joy to get back home.''

    Cash spoke optimistically about the team he is taking over, confident the Rays can return to playoff contention after winning only 77 games last season, then seeing executive VP Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon leave. That was further fueled by conversations he has had with his bosses along with about three-fourths of the players and most of the coaches.

    "I'm extremely excited about the energy and the optimism that everybody I've been fortunate enough to speak with has presented,'' Cash said. "I'm thrilled with the opportunity to work with them.''

    Cash and baseball operations president Matt Silverman will meet this week, and expect to have the coaching staff finalized in the next few days. The Rays are looking to fill at least one opening, and could either hire a bench coach or shift one of the current coaches, most likely 3B coach Tom Foley, to the bench role....

    Kevin Cash, 37, was hired Dec. 5, but Monday was his formal introduction to the Tampa Bay area.