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. Zobrist walkoff hit gives Rays win over Yankees

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It took the Rays nearly 3½ hours to score a run Monday, but it was worth it, Ben Zobrist's bases-loaded single with two outs in the ninth inning giving them a 1-0 win over the Yankees.

    "Walkoffs are still fun," manager Joe Maddon said. "I thought our guys celebrated well."

    Though it was only the Rays' 73rd win of a disappointing season, Maddon is pushing them for a .500 finish, noting they would be the first team to do so after being 18 games under. They need to win eight of their last 11 to do so....

    The Rays’ Alex Colome delivers in the sixth inning of an impressive start, in which he reached career highs of 62/3 innings and 113 pitches.
  2. Derek Jeter sidesteps question about Rays ownership


    ST. PETERSBURG — Retiring Yankees star Derek Jeter had high praise for Rays officials on Monday but wouldn't bite on a question about one day becoming their boss.

    Speaking before his final series at the Trop, Jeter reiterated that he eventually "would love" to get into an ownership/decision-making role. Asked if he'd consider that with the Rays since he'll be living in Tampa, he replied: "You're trying to get me in trouble. Is there a tampering rule the other way around? I haven't thought about anything specific."...

  3. Jeter's time in Tampa started with tears


        ST. PETERSBURG - Retiring Yankees star Derek Jeter acknowledged Monday that his love affair with the Tampa Bay area got off to quite a rocky start.

        Jeter said that when he first started his pro career with the Tampa-based Gulf Coast League team in 1992 he would often end each day in tears wishing he could go home to Michigan....

  4. No Jeter in Yankees lineup tonight


    If you were coming to the Trop tonight to see Derek Jeter play against the Rays, be advised he is not in the Yankees lineup.

    Jeter is hitless in his last 24 at-bats, also he played the Sunday night game in Baltimore, and he was struck on the left elbow by a pitch on Thursday.

    Brendan Ryan is playing SS tonight for the Yankees, and Carlos Beltran is the DH.

    The Rays are honoring Jeter before Tuesday's game, planning to give him a few gifts and a donation to his charity....

    Derek Jeter is not in the Yankees lineup for tonight's game against the Rays.
  5. New York Yankees Derek Jeter's baseball legend rooted in Tampa



    Busted down to its simplest form, his story is like many others.

    Guy first comes to Tampa Bay for work, digs the scene and weather, decides a couple of years later to move down to better his job chances.

    In long form, of course, Derek Jeter's story is like no other's.

    The iconic impression he has made on baseball, capping a 20-year, 14-time All-Star, five World Series championship career with the New York Yankees, will be lasting....

    New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, shown Aug. 15 at Tropicana Field, will soon be able to look back on an epic career.
  6. Rays: Jake McGee's 'W' not what he wanted; Escobar and Toronto heckling

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Yankees

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Tickets: $21-275, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster,, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Alex Colome (1-0, 2.79)

    YANKEES: LH Chris Capuano (1-2, 5.13)...

    Rays pitcher Miguel Colome stands at the mound as the Tigers Miguel Cabrera rounds second after hitting a two-run homer in the first inning. The Tampa Bay Rays play the Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field on Friday, 06/28/2013.
  7. Rays to call up infielder Nick Franklin, part of Price haul

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Obviously impressed with the work of LHP Drew Smyly, the Rays will get a look at another piece of the trade return for LHP David Price when INF Nick Franklin joins the team today.

    Franklin, acquired from Seattle in the three-way deal with Detroit, was one of three players called up after Triple-A Durham's loss Saturday in the International League championship series and will get playing time at second base....

    Durham Bulls' Nick Franklin (12) reacts during the team's 4-2 loss to the Pawtucket Red Sox in 13 innings during Game 4 of the Governors' Cup Finals on Friday, Sept. 12, 2014, in Durham, N.C.  (AP Photo/The Herald-Sun, Christine T. Nguyen) NCDUS103
  8. Rays-Yankees preview

    The Heater

  9. Rays bounce back after blowing lead, beat Blue Jays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Nothing comes easy for the Rays these days.

    Certainly not Sunday's 6-5, 10-inning win over the Blue Jays.

    Before exhaling and high-fiving their way off the field, the Rays blew another four-run lead late, with Grant Balfour and Jake McGee giving up home runs; scored only once after loading the bases to start the 10th; then hung on as the unlikely duo of Brandon Gomes and Jeff Beliveau teamed for the final three outs....

    Yunel Escobar points toward heckling fans in Toronto after hitting a solo home run during the eighth inning, putting the Rays up 5-1.
  10. Rays to add 3: Colome, Franklin, Riefenhauser


    UPDATE, 12:12: Maddon said Colome is likely to make two starts, but the Rays also want to see him out of the bullpen. Colome will be out of options next year and the Rays could use him in either role. With Colome and Nathan Karns, Maddon said the Rays will use "kind of" a six-man rotation. Each starter is likely to get two starts, with some wiggle room. ... Franklin will get to play, only at second base and primarily against right-handers. There will be a trickle down impact, with Ben Zobrist either playing more outfield or DH. ... Riefenhauser will pitch in relief....

  11. For starters, Rays at Jays, with Archer changing up


    UPDATE, 12:07: Maddon said his bullpen usage over the final two weeks will be determined on a daily basis as he doesn't want to use McGee and Boxberger too much down the stretch but will do so with the chance to win a game. .... Loney is out of the lineup due to the matchup with Buehrle but will be back in there Monday vs. Yankees LHP Chris Capuano.

    Rays lineup:
    Zobrist dh
    Guyer lf
    Longoria 3b
    Myers rf
    Forsythe 2b
    Escobar ss
    Rodriguez 1b
    Hanigan c
    Kiermaier cf
    Archer p

    Jays lineup:
    Reyes ss
    Bautista rf
    Lind 1b
    Encarnacion dh
    Navarro c
    Rasmus cf
    Valencia 3b
    Goins 2b
    Gose lf
    Buehrle p...

    Chris Archer will be on the mound for the Rays, encouraged by his coaches to experiment more with his changeup and different pitch sequences over his final starts as a building block for future success.
  12. Rays: Karns, Casali causing confusion

    The Heater

    Confusion of the day

    1B James Loney joked that he had to defer to P Jeremy Hellickson to make the catch of a foul pop since he had a Gold Glove as they collided on the first-inning play. "I thought he was (catcher Jose) Molina," Loney said, in a mixup never made before. "I wasn't looking, I heard the sound, I didn't expect it to be the pitcher."

    Rays at Blue Jays...

    SP_358142_ZUPP_Rays_2 (St. Petersburg, 09/08/02012) Rays pitcher Chris Archer pauses after Texas centerfielder Josh Hamilton hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning. Tampa Bay Rays play the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field. [CHRIS ZUPPA, Times]
  13. Rays Tales: Jeter at the Trop

    The Heater

    The Derek Jeter retirement tour comes to the Trop this week, replete with the obligatory gifts and potentially awkward pregame ceremony before Tuesday's game. (And what do you get the man who has everything, and a massive home to keep it? Expect the Rays on Tuesday to give Jeter something Tampa Bay-area-related — a boat? Barely used Trop seats? Intransigent politicians? — and a donation to his charity.) But this is more than a fleeting farewell. Jeter — who will spend a lot of his now free time at that little place he owns over on Tampa's Davis Islands — has played under the slanted roof a lot, more than any other visiting player. Over the 17 years the Rays have been around, Jeter has played nearly a full season. He has hit .278 with eight homers and 53 RBIs in 576 plate appearances over 124 games, with potentially three more to go in what is as certain to be a Hall of Fame career as there can be. All of which got us thinking about where he ranks among the other great players who have played at the Trop, including seven Hall of Famers. (An eighth, LHP Tom Glavine, pitched in the first game at the Trop, a March 27, 1998 exhibition):...

    Hall of Famer Wade Boggs came home to the Rays for two seasons and got his 3,000th career hit at Tropicana Field.
  14. Rays probably won't be tearing down roster

    The Heater

    Principal owner Stuart Sternberg saying last week, in response to a question, that the payroll is headed down for 2015 is hardly a surprise after the Rays jumped from $62 million to a franchise-record $80 million, which he termed "an enormous aberration."

    And it was curious that he brought up how they'd done better in the past with smaller payrolls and made a passing reference to how they made a "couple of big signings" — presumably RHP Grant Balfour, maybe 1B James Loney? — but the net result "still comes down" to total team performance....

    Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, left, and Manager Joe Maddon, right, laugh as Cecil Fielder takes the lineup to the umpires before the Rays spring training game against the Twins at Charlotte Sports Park Monday in Port Charlotte, FL.
  15. Rays tell Chris Archer to work in changeup in final starts

    The Heater

    TORONTO — RHP Chris Archer may look a little different when he takes the mound today against the Blue Jays.

    With the Rays all but officially eliminated from playoff contention, Archer said he has been encouraged to experiment more, specifically with his changeup, over his final three starts.

    "It's not necessarily practice, but there's opportunity to work on things and grow as a pitcher over these next three starts," he said. "There is a little more room for trying some things that you may not normally do, and becoming comfortable with them and getting major-league feedback on different things in different situations. And that's what the coaches have challenged me to do in order to help me grow."...

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) in the dugout in the fifth inning during the Detroit Tigers at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, August 19, 2014.