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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. Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen gets Twins job

    Blog

      The Rays have lost Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen to the Twins, who hired him to new manager Paul Molitor's staff, per multiple reports.
        Allen, 56, has been in the Rays organization for eight seasons, the last four in Durham, and has earned raves at all levels.

  2. Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen gets Twins job

    Blog

      The Rays have lost Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen to the Twins, who hired him to new manager Paul Molitor's staff, per multiple reports.
        Allen, 56, has been in the Rays organization for eight seasons, the last four in Durham, and has earned raves at all levels.

  3. Rays looking for clean break from past with new manager

    The Heater

    So, about the Rays cutting their managerial list down to the unexpected trio of Kevin Cash, Raul Ibanez and Don Wakamatsu

    First was what baseball operations president Matt Silverman called the "especially difficult" decision to bypass — and likely now part ways with — longtime bench coach Dave Martinez.

    While Martinez has a different personality and style than Joe Maddon, Rays officials clearly wanted a clean break from the past, their suggestion that a "new voice" was more likely to push the team forward hinting that they sensed staleness in the clubhouse that could linger....

    FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2014, file photo, Kansas City Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu talks to his players before Game 2 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants in Kansas City, Mo. Raul Ibanez, Kevin Cash and Wakamatsu are the finalists to replace Joe Maddon as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays announced Friday, Nov. 21.  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File) NY170
  4. How Rays 40-man roster looks now

    Blog

    After a busy week of transactions, here is how the Rays 40-man roster looks now:

    PITCHERS (20)
    Matt Andriese
    Chris Archer
    Grant Balfour
    Jeff Beliveau
    Brad Boxberger
    Alex Cobb
    Alex Colome
    Jose Dominguez
    Grayson Garvin
    Steve Geltz
    Brandon Gomes
    Nathan Karns
    Jake McGee
    Mike Montgomery
    Matt Moore
    Jake Odorizzi
    C.J. Riefenhauser
    Enny Romero
    Drew Smyly
    Kirby Yates

    CATCHERS (3)
    Curt Casali
    Ryan Hanigan
    Justin O'Conner

    INFIELDERS (10)
    Tim Beckham
    Ryan Brett
    Yunel Escobar
    Logan Forsythe
    Nick Franklin
    Hak-Ju Lee
    James Loney
    Evan Longoria
    Sean Rodriguez
    Ben Zobrist

    OUTFIELDERS (7)

    David DeJesus
    Brandon Guyer
    Desmond Jennings
    Matt Joyce
    Kevin Kiermaier
    Mikie Mahtook
    Wil Myers...

  5. Rays name managerial finalists: Cash, Ibanez, Wakamatsu

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Whenever speaking about the Rays managerial vacancy, baseball operations president Matt Silverman emphasizes the priority of maintaining their clubhouse culture. • But he made it clear Friday they want a "new voice" to do so, passing over longtime bench coach Dave Martinez in naming three external candidates as finalists: Kevin Cash, Raul Ibanez and Don Wakamatsu. • Of the three, only Wakamatsu, 51, has managerial experience (2009-10 in Seattle) or more than a couple of years as a coach. Cash, 36, is a Tampa native who after playing spent one year as an advance scout and the past two as the Indians' bullpen coach. And Ibanez, 42, is still technically an active player, finishing his 19th season last month with the Royals. • Having started with a field of 10 to replace Joe Maddon, the Rays will bring in the three finalists for in-depth interviews starting Dec. 1, with plans to pick one before the winter meetings open the following week in San Diego. • "We were very impressed by the 10 finalists we interviewed and could have envisioned any of them managing our club," Silverman said in a statement....

    [Cleveland Indians photo]
  6. Joel Peralta trade brings Rays 'electric stuff'

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays had a pretty good sense of what veteran reliever Joel Peralta could do for them based on his performance the last four seasons.

    But late Thursday, they traded that security for the potential upside of the power arm of Jose Dominguez in a four-player deal with the Dodgers.

    Dominguez, 24, has been clocked at 103 mph and, despite two drug suspensions and shoulder issues that sidelined him part of last season, the Rays see the possibility of a dominant reliever....

  7. Rays manager finalists are Cash, Ibanez and Wakamatsu

    Blog

    UPDATE, 5:33: Team president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said the decision to leave out Martinez was "especially difficult" but "n the end, we determined that our clubhouse would best benefit from a new voice that will add to our already strong and cohesive culture.''

    Martinez did not return text messages and his voicemail was not accepting messages.

    UPDATE, 5:18:  The three finalists for the Rays managerial job are Kevin Cash, Raul Ibanez and Don Wakamatsu, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

    Dave Martinez, the longtime bench coach, was eliminated from consideration, along with five others. A sixth, Brewers special assistant Craig Counsell, withdrew his name from consideration.

    Cash, 36, is a Tampa native currently working as the Indians bullpen coach. Ibanez, 42, is still technically an active player, having finished last season with the Royals. Wakamatsu, 51, previously managed the Mariners and us currently the Royals bench coach....

    Don Wakamatsu, Kevin Cash and Raul Ibanez are the finalists to replace Joe Maddon as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays announced Friday, Nov. 21, 2014.
  8. Silverman calls first deal with Friedman "smoothly awkward"

    Blog

    For more than 10 years, Matt Silverman and Andrew Friedman worked side by side with the Rays, transitioning as Stuart Sternberg took ownership and then running the team.

    When Friedman left last month for a big bucks deal with the Dodgers, Silverman, who had been team president, took his place as head of baseball operaitons.

    And Thursday they worked together in a different way, collaborating on a four-player trade thay sent veteran reliever Joel Peralta and prospect Adam Liberatore to the Dodgers in return for pitchers Joe Dominguez and minor-leaguer Greg Harris....

  9. Rays cut ties with catcher Jose Molina, trade Peralta to Dodgers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — For most of the past three seasons, Rays officials insisted veteran catcher Jose Molina's ability to frame pitches and coax extra strikes from umpires offset other deficiencies in his game.

    But no longer, as the Rays, with Matt Silverman now heading baseball operations, decided to cut ties, designating Molina for assignment at Thursday's midnight deadline to set their 40-man roster. They have 10 days to trade Molina or release him and eat his $2.75 million salary for 2015....

    Jose Molina, left, here with his brother Bengie this past season, threw out only 12 of 50 base stealers last year and batted .178.
  10. Jose Molina to be dropped from Rays roster

    Blog

    Veteran C Jose Molina will be designated for assignment tonight as the Rays clear space on their 40-man roster, the Times has learned.

    Molina, 39, is signed for next season at a salary of $2,75-million, the back end of a two-year, $4.5-million deal. The Rays will have 10 days to work out a trade or release Molina.

    He started 70 games last season for the Rays, and played in 80 total, throwing out only 12 of 50 attempted basestealers and hitting .178 with only two extra base hits. His .187 slugging percentage was the lowest for any player with at least 200 plate appearances since 1968, when Ray Oyler posted a .186 for Detroit....

  11. AAA pitching coach Allen a Twins candidate, Longoria homers in Japan

    Blog

    As the Rays sort through their 40-man roster decisions today and plan to cut the field of managerial candidates on Friday, here are some other news items:

    * Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen, who draws raves from the players for his work, is a finalist for the Twins pitching coach job, where he would join new manager Paul Molitor, according to the Star-Tribune. Allen was a candidate previously for the Phillies job. The other finalist is reportedly Carl Willis....

  12. Rays face midnight deadline for 40-man roster decisions

    Blog

    Having spent much of the week focused on best manipulating their 40-man roster, the Rays have until midnight tonight to make their final decisions.

    Those decisions are multi-tiered, starting with these two simple questions:

    * How many additions need to be made from the half-dozen or so promising prospects they consider vulnerable to be taken in the December Rule 5 draft?

    * With only two spots open, how can they best create more room now, through trades to get some return or by designating for assignment players they could lose for nothing?...

  13. Evan Longoria leaves game in Japan with bruise after HBP

    Blog

    UPDATE, 10:51: The Rays also confirm it was just a bruise for Longoria, that he he didn't require an X-ray and told MLB team manager John Farrell after the game that he was fine.

    DEVELOPING: Rays 3B Evan Longoria left Tuesday's game in Japan for precautionary reasons after sustaining a bruised left forearm from being hit by a pitch.

    Longoria, who has had an eventful tour with the MLB team, was batting in the third inning when he was hit by a Shohei Ohtani pitch. Longoria appeared okay at the time and took first, then played the field in the bottom of the third inning but was replaced for the fourth....

  14. As Rays ponder manager, a look at the 40-man roster

    Blog

    The Rays have two major tasks this week, to cut the field of candidates in their search for a new manager from the original 10, and to best manipulate their 40-man roster to add up to a half-dozen prospects so they can't be taken in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.

    Though the manager search is obviously the bigger story, the roster moves are of more immediate concern because the decisions have to be made by Thursday. Having already traded LHP Cesar Ramos and RHP Jeremy Hellickson to get down to 38, the Rays could be looking to create up to four more spots....

  15. Rays Evan Longoria watches birth of son via phone from Japan

    Blog

    UPDATE, 3:25: Edmondson tweeted that they have chosen a name, Nash Harrison Longoria.

    DEVELOPING: Rays 3B Evan Longoria watched via FaceTime on his phone from the Tokyo Dome on Saturday as fiancee Jaime Edmondson delivered a healthy baby boy in Arizona.

    Then in Sunday's game, he celebrated by hitting a home run, as the MLB team won 6-1.

    Longoria said they are still deciding on a name for the baby, who weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces and was 20 inches long. He said both the baby and Edmondson were doing well....

    MLB All-Stars' Evan Longoria, left, celebrates with teammate Chris Carter after hitting a solo shot off Japan's Minoru Iwata in the sixth inning of Game 4 of their exhibition baseball series at Tokyo Dome on Sunday.