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 debut dream come true for C.J. Riefenhauser

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — First, LHP C.J. Riefenhauser couldn't say anything when Triple-A Durham manager Charlie Montoyo called at midnight Friday with words of his first promotion to the big leagues.

    "Speechless," Riefenhauser said. "That was the only word that came to mind. I couldn't even process it all at the time."

    Then he had plenty of talking to do, calling his parents at their New York home and telling them to book flights for themselves, and their three other kids, to Tampa for Saturday morning....

    C.J. Riefenhauser gets all four batters out while throwing 10 of 12 pitches for strikes in his big-league debut, which comes against a Yankees team he rooted for as a child.
  2. Rays: Heath Bell brings new toy to clubhouse

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Yankees

    When/where: 1:40 today; Tropicana Field

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

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

    Promotion: Joe Maddon Hoodie Drawstring Bag, for kids 14 and under

    Probable pitchers...

  3. Rays hit five homers, annihilate Yankees

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — So a guy walked into the Trop on Saturday and found himself having the most unexpected conversation:

    Who among the suddenly potent Rays hitters had the biggest night in the 16-1 win over the Yankees that featured five home runs?

    Was it Wil Myers, who looked as if he got his groove back after a rough start in hitting his first two homers of the season?

    Was it Ryan Hanigan, who, similarly on track after an 0-for-18 skid, also hit two homers as part of a career-high six-RBI night?...

    Evan Longoria celebrates after hitting a two-run homer in the third inning, giving him 164 in his career, a Rays franchise record.
  4. Rays Tales: All about Matt Moore's elbow

    The Heater

    LHP Matt Moore's life, at least in the short term, will change extensively after Tommy John elbow ligament reconstruction surgery on Tuesday.

    Moore's entire focus, at age 24, has to shift from winning games on the mound to "beating" the yearlong-plus rehab process, his competitiveness channeled to what, especially for the first few months, will be very mundane drills.

    "The surgery is about 10 percent of it, and the rehab process is the remaining 90 — it's everything to this," Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "And that's what gives you great peace of mind, is that we know how hard Matt works and we know how badly he wants to get back. And that coupled with a tremendous training staff gives us great optimism for how well he'll bounce back next year."...

  5. For starters, Rays vs. Yankees, with no Jennings again


    UPDATE, 5:52: The Rays will tweak the rotation coming out of Monday's off-day, with LHP David Price moving ahead of RHP Jake Odorizzi and pitching Tuesday. That is designed to keep Price on his regular five-day schedule.

    RHP Jeremy Hellickson had some light soreness during his rehab from arthroscopic right elbow surgery and is taking three days off, with a plan to play catch on Sunday. Hellickson had hoped to throw off the mound for the first time last Tuesday in Baltimore, so this would seem to push him back at least a week, and push his return to the rotation into June....

  6. UPDATE: Riefenhauser to join Rays today


    UPDATE, 2:56: The Rays have announced that Riefenhauser has been called up.

    DEVELOPING: The latest turn of the bullpen shuffle is expected to result in LHP C.J. Rienfenhauser joining the Rays tonight, the Times has learned.

    Riefenhauser, 24, will be making his big-league debut. He was a 20th round pick in the 2010 draft, and has risen steadily through the organization. He pitched in the All-Star Futures Game last July in New York during a season split between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham as he was converted exclusively to relief work....

  7. Rays-Yankees preview

    The Heater

    .UP NEXT

    vs. Yankees


    What's new: Not that they'll get any sympathy from the Rays, but the Yankees — who played a day-night doubleheader vs. the Cubs on Wednesday — are banged up, with 1B Mark Teixeira, closer Dave Robertson and backup INF Brendan Ryan and C Francisco Cervelli all placed on the DL since opening day. SS Derek Jeter (had you heard he's retiring after this season?) has missed a couple of games with quad issues but was expected to return Wednesday night. The Yankees spent heavily in the offseason to get back into the playoff race, adding C Brian McCann, OFs Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury and Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka, who bolsters their rotation....

  8. Rays' Wil Myers off to worst start of pro career

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — OF Wil Myers said there is no probably about it: This is officially his worst start in six seasons of pro ball.

    Wednesday's 0-for-4 against the Orioles dropped his average to .200, and the other numbers aren't any prettier: two extra-base hits, four RBIs, 16 strikeouts compared to four walks, a .499 on-base plus slugging percentage.

    "Just not getting the job done — swinging at bad pitches, going out of the zone, not staying with my plan," Myers said. "Besides the first game of the year, I haven't really done too much at the plate. It's something we're working on in the cage. It's just one of those things I'm going through right now. Just looking to get out of it soon."...

  9. Rays: Jackie Robinson tribute special to players

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Yankees

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field.

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

    Tickets: $18-$275, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster,, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: LHP David Price (2-0, 2.91)

    yankees: LHP CC Sabathia (1-2, 6.63)...

  10. Rays lose to Orioles, wrap up rough road trip

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — So much of the Rays' 10-day road trip was about loss.

    Two top starting pitchers, Alex Cobb and Matt Moore, were knocked out of the rotation with injuries. A glaring lack of offense took away most of their momentum — and some of their confidence — from a promising opening week. And a 3-0 defeat to the Orioles in Wednesday's matinee ended their trying trip at 3-5 and sent them home with a losing record overall at 7-8....

    Orioles catcher Matt Wieters waits to tag out the Rays’ Logan Forsythe on a forceout at the plate during the seventh inning.
  11. Zimmer resting comfortably after surgery


    The Rays announced that Don Zimmer was resting comfortably after 6+ hours of heart surgery on Wednesday. Zimmer, 83, is expected to remain hospitalized for a few days.

  12. Rays lose to Orioles 3-0


     The Rays wrapped up a rough road trip with a 3-0 loss to the Orioles on a chilly Wednesday afternoon.
       A first-pitch temp of 39 and an in-game high of 46 degrees didn't do anything to warm the Rays bats, which have produced just 14 runs in their last nine games.
          Manager Joe Maddon has been insisting the Rays have been playing well and not getting any breaks, and Wednesday's game certainly furthered his case.
       In the top of the fourth inning, the Rays got nothing out of promising opportunity with men on first and second with one out. David DeJesus laced a ball to right, but Baltimore's Nick Markakis raced in to make a diving catch, and then doubled James Loney off second.
      Then in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Orioles got two runs off Jake Odorizzi out of what didn't look like much, loading the bases on a walk, a single and a bunt by Adam Jones that caught Evan Longoria by surprise. They got one run on an out, a deep fly by Matt Wieters that Desmond Jennings caught near the wall, and the other on a slow roller by the mound that Odorizzi made a sliding play on
       They did it again in the fifth, loading the bases on two walks and a single, and scoring when Jones rolled a ball down the third that stopped just inside the chalk.
      Odorizzi worked five innings, allowing the three runs on five hits and three walks....

  13. For starters, Rays at Orioles, on a downright cold day


    UPDATE, 11:52: There does appear to be a bit of a rivalry or something between Rays manager Joe Maddon and Orioles counterpart Buck Showalter, though both profess respect for the other.

    On Tuesday, before the decision was made to postpone the game, despite obvious poor conditions that the Rays said made for an obvious call, Showalter said: "I think our guys are mature enough to understand there's a price to pay for doubleheaders, especially when they are put off until August.''...

  14. Video: Matt Moore on decision to have surgery


    Rays LHP Matt Moore talks about his decision to have Tommy John elbow surgery, which will sideline him for 12-15 months.


  15. Rays' Matt Moore convinced surgery is the best option

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — LHP Matt Moore is confident the Tommy John surgery he is having next week eventually will make his left elbow feel better. He just had to be sure he felt it was the right thing to do before deciding Monday to proceed.

    And he said that when he opened his eyes Tuesday, he knew it was.

    "I don't think that there was a whole lot of hesitation when I woke up (Tuesday) morning," he said. "I knew I wasn't dreaming. It wasn't like, 'Do I really want to do this?' "...

    Rays All-Star starter Matt Moore says that a day after announcing that he’d have Tommy John surgery, he had no doubt that he’d made the right call.