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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. For starters, Rays vs. Orioles

    Blog

    UPDATE, 10:15: Raul Ibanez, who took himself out of the running for the Rays managerial job to spend more time with his family, has been hired as a studio analyst by Fox, SI.com reports.

    UPDATE, 10:03: RHP Alex Cobb (forearm tendinitis) played catch again today and it went well.

    LHP Matt Moore (TJ surgery) and LHP Jake McGee (arthroscopic elbow surgery) will throw bullpens on Tuesday....

    Grant Balfour pitches against the Yankees last week in a spring training game in Port Charlotte.
  2. Week before opener, Rays have several roster questions

    The Heater

    FORT MYERS — Opening day is a week from today, and filling out the starting rotation is among the topics the Rays have to address as they have about a half-dozen spots overall to settle.

    With three of their projected five starters (Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly and Alex Colome) sidelined by injury and illness, the Rays are looking at internal and at least a few external options to join Chris Archer, Nathan Karns and Jake Odorizzi....

    Rays pitcher Matt Andriese, who is scheduled to start today against the Orioles, is having an impressive spring and has made himself the top candidate for the fourth spot in a rotation that will be missing three pitchers at the start of the season.
  3. Rays: Kevin Cash unconcerned about overexposure to Orioles

    The Heater

    If you knew that they knew …

    The Rays have games today and Tuesday against the same Orioles team they play for real next week, but manager Kevin Cash doesn't see it as a big deal either way. "I guess there's an advantage if you can pick a pitcher up doing something, tipping a pitch or showing a tendency," Cash said. "But who's to say he's not intentionally doing that, showing that tendency, and then he's going to totally reverse it come the first series."...

  4. Rays expect Brad Boxberger to fill in as closer

    The Heater

    FORT MYERS — With returning closer Jake McGee sidelined for the first month of the season as he recovers from left elbow surgery, the Rays say they plan to use several pitchers in that role.

    But expect RHP Brad Boxberger to get a significant share.

    "He will be in a lot of meaningful situations," manager Kevin Cash said. "With some other guys, but for what Box did last year and the confidence we have in him, I would definitely anticipate him pitching in those leverage situations."...

    Brad Boxberger, who pitched a 1-2-3 first inning against Red Sox starters, says he’d be eager for a chance to fill in at closer.
  5. For starters: Rays at Red Sox

    Blog

    UPDATE, 5:50: The Rays lost 3-2 in 10 innings to the Red Sox.

    UPDATE, 8:53: LHP Drew Smyly (shoulder tendinitis) said he continues to feel better and though his scheduled is set "in pencil" he expects to be back pitching for the Rays sometime in April, and there would have to be a setback for him not to be.

    RHP Alex Cobb  said he feels good the day after his first throwing session, is off today (with Grand Prix duties in St. Pete), and plays catch again Monday...

  6. Rays use Saturday to set up rotation for start of season

    The Heater

    PORT CHARLOTTE — After having their top three starters all pitch Saturday, the Rays are positioned to set up the front part of their rotation, with RHP Chris Archer set to be followed by RHPs Nathan Karns and Jake Odorizzi in the opening series vs. Baltimore.

    With injuries sidelining ace RHP Alex Cobb and No. 3 LHP Drew Smyly, the Rays used Saturday to re-set the rotation. Archer and Odorizzi both pitched in minor-league games and did well, while Karns struggled over four innings in a 9-6 loss to Boston....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Nathan Karns delivers against the Boston Red Sox in the first inning during an exhibition spring training baseball game, Saturday, March 28, 2015, in Port Charlotte, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) FLBA101
  7. Rays: Red Sox manager John Farrell praises Kevin Cash

    The Heater

    High praise for Cash

    Boston manager John Farrell said he sensed from Kevin Cash's playing days with the Red Sox that he had the knowledge and personal skills to be a manager. "He had a way to really affect his teammates," Farrell said Saturday. "That speaks more to his personality and thick skin and general confidence to speak his mind." Farrell recalled Cash rejoining the Sox in July 2010 in trade from Houston's Triple-A team and "calling out David Ortiz the moment he walked in. I'm thinking this is pretty good, a guy that was just traded for out of Triple A came in and made a statement as he walked in the clubhouse … letting him know he was back."...

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) photographed at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. for the 2015 Meet The Rays feature.
  8. Making a difference in world a mission for Rays' Chris Archer

    The Heater

    PORT CHARLOTTE — Like other talented young pitchers on the front end of promising careers, Rays opening day starter Chris Archer hopes to help his team win lots of games over the next few years. Getting a few All-Star selections, making a couple of World Series appearances and earning a Cy Young Award or two would be even better.

    Then Archer wants to get on to the really important stuff....

    Chris Archer does lunges during an offseason workout at Performance Compound in Tampa, where he became motivated to speak out against excessive youth league demands on players.
  9. DeJesus Dilemma vexes Rays as season nears

    The Heater

    Most of the Rays problems' this spring are related to filling holes created by injury/illness to INF Nick Franklin and starters Alex Cobb, Alex Colome and Drew Smyly.

    But they also face the DeJesus Dilemma — deciding what to do with veteran OF David DeJesus.

    He doesn't fit in their lineup, has not drawn serious trade interest and is unlikely to be simply cut given that he's guaranteed $6 million....

    David DeJesus has been showing good humor while being in a kind of limbo with the Rays, who likely would prefer to trade him rather than pay him the $5 million that he’s owed this year.
  10. For starters, Rays vs. Red Sox

    Blog

    UPDATE, 12:04: Cobb said his throwng session went well, that it's back to "square one but I don't think there's as many squares,'' and he expects to be back pitching for the Rays sometime in April. He said there was some tightness, as he would expect after 10 days off, comparing it to the first time he throws in the off-season, and said he was glad to get the first step back out of the way....

  11. Rays: 'Dolphin Tale' actor to sing opening day anthem

    The Heater

    Dolphin tune

    The Rays' opening day national anthem will be performed by Cozi Zuehlsdorff, a 16-year-old singer/actor who appeared in the Dolphin Tale movies filmed in Clearwater. Zuehlsdorff wrote and performed the song Brave Souls for Dolphin Tale 2.

    Number of the day

    10 Consecutive home-opener sellouts if the Rays sell out this year's, as they anticipate, though tickets remain for the April 6 game against the Orioles...

  12. Odorizzi, Karns to follow Archer in Rays' rotation

    The Heater

    PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays manager Kevin Cash said Friday that RHP Jake Odorizzi and RHP Nathan Karns will start Games 2 and 3 of the season. But the order, primarily based on matchups going forward, hasn't been determined.

    "Other than off-days, this is the time you can kind of set for matchups," Cash said. "We don't have five lined-up starters ready to go out of the gate, so we might as well do our homework and pick the best advantages for the pitchers and our team."...

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) in the fifth inning during the Spring Training game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Saturday, March 21, 2015.
  13. Vince Naimoli to throw out first pitch at Rays opener

    The Heater

    PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays are making an unexpected nod to their past in selecting original owner Vince Naimoli to throw out the first pitch before the April 6 season opener.

    Naimoli was chosen in acknowledgement of the team's 20th birthday.

    "We are glad to have Vince Naimoli throw out the first pitch as we recognize 20 years since Tampa Bay was awarded a major-league franchise," current principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. "Vince led the effort to bring baseball here and has continued to enrich the community with his charitable giving."...

    Vince Naimoli led the group that won the franchise in March 1995.
  14. Vince Naimoli to throw out first pitch at Rays opener

    Blog

    The Rays are making an unexpected nod to their past in picking previous team owner Vince Naimoli to throw out the first pitch prior to the April 6 season opener.

    Naimoli was chosen to acknowledge the 20-year anniversary of the franchise being awarded.

    "We are glad to have Vince Naimoli throw out the first pitch as we recognize 20 years since Tampa Bay was awarded a major league franchise,'' current principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. "Vince led the effort to bring baseball here and has continued to enrich the community with his charitable giving.''...

    Vince Naimoli was chosen to acknowledge the 20-year anniversary of the franchise being awarded. [Times files (2008)]
  15. For starters, Rays at Orioles, weather permitting

    Blog

    The Rays and Orioles got 3 1/2 innings in at Ed Smith Stadium before storms arrived from the coast. LHP  Everett Teaford, vying for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, and left-handed reliever Mike Montgomery logged two innings each.

    Baltimore led 4-3 when play was stopped. Facing the Orioles' de facto opening day lineup, Teaford gave up a first-pitch home run to LF Nolan Reimold,  then retired the next six batters he faced....

    Crews prepare to cover the field at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. [JOEY KNIGHT | Times]