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 have another Joe-tato giveaway


    The Rays are adding a second, hipper-looking Joe Maddon Mr. Potato Head giveaway on Sept. 20, free to the first 20,000 fans.

    "What can I say - flattery comes in so many different forms,'' Maddon said. "This year I've been flattered twice by having my resemblance likened to that of a potato.''

    This version has a hoodie, cooler glasses and white hair.



    The new Maddon giveaway.
  2. Rays: Flashback to Archer-Ortiz war of words

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Red Sox

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

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

    Promotion: Raymond rally gnome as part of Tampa Bay Times ticket tandem.

    Probable pitchers...

    This is a 2014 photo of pitcher Anthony Ranaudo of the Boston Red Sox baseball team. This image reflects the Red Sox active roster as of Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
  3. Sloppy Rays blow two leads, lose to Orioles

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Manager Joe Maddon keeps talking about how the Rays are one of the best teams in the American League and can still battle their way into postseason.

    But they are certainly not playing anything like it.

    Two botched defensive plays factored heavily into Thursday's 5-4 loss as Tampa Bay continued what has been an uncharacteristically sloppy stretch at an obviously crucial time....

    Rays leftfielder Matt Joyce watches Steve Pearce’s first-inning homer fly over the wall.
  4. Chris Archer done talking about David Ortiz

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Chris Archer is typically a man of many words, one of the most thoughtful and loquacious players in the Rays' clubhouse.

    But he was pointedly short in his comments about facing Boston DH David Ortiz tonight for the first time since they exchanged words — via media interviews — in late July.

    That was when Ortiz flipped his bat after hitting a homer. Archer spoke about Ortiz acting like he was "bigger than the game," and Ortiz questioned whether Archer had been around long enough to speak out....

    Rays starter Chris Archer, who faces the Red Sox tonight, says he no longer wants to discuss his tiff with DH David Ortiz.
  5. Rays-Red Sox preview

    The Heater

    . UP NEXT

    vs. Red Sox


    What's new: The Sox have a significantly different look since their late July visit, having traded pitchers Jon Lester, John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy and Andrew Miller; OF Jonny Gomes; and INF Stephen Drew, while sending down OF Jackie Bradley Jr., dumping Mike Carp and putting OF Shane Victorino and INF Xander Bogaerts on the DL. They brought in OF Yeonis Cespedes, OF Allen Craig and RHP Joe Kelly and have brought up a bunch of prospects and minor-leaguers. They still have DH David Ortiz, among the AL leaders with 30 homers and 94 RBIs, 2B Dustin Pedroia and 1B Mike Napoli. Rookie C Christian Vazquez looks good. After losing eight straight, they took two of three at Toronto. Bogaerts, who was on the concussion DL, is expected back Saturday....

  6. For starters, Rays at Orioles, looking for a split


    UPDATE, 6:06: Maddon said to expect 4-5 additions when rosters can be expanded on Monday. C Curt Casali and OF David DeJesus (who has been on the DL) are two, and at least two pitchers are expected, likely relievers. RHP Brandon Gomes would seem likely to be one, with LHP C.J. Riefenhauser a possibility to be the other. The Rays eventually will add at least one other starter, but may wait as Triple-A Durham is in the playoffs. Others may be called up then as well. .... Maddon said he is pleased with the results and the approach that Longoria has been using, and disputed observations by some scouts suggesting he wasn't using his legs or lower half properly....

    Jeremy Hellickson, who has been solid in his return from the DL, will be on the mound for the Rays against veteran RHP Bud Norris.
  7. Rays: Maddon's vocabulary honored by T-shirt

    The Heater

    Rays at Orioles

    When/where: 7:05 tonight; Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 1250-AM, 97.9-FM

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Jeremy Hellickson (1-2, 2.61)

    ORIOLES: RH Bud Norris (11-8, 3.91)

    On Hellickson: Worked into the seventh with no decision Saturday, striking out eight. Last five runs allowed have been with two outs. Is 9-4, 3.25 ERA in 17 games vs. Orioles....

    SARASOTA, FL - FEBRUARY 22:  Bud Norris #25 of the Baltimore Orioles poses for a portrait on photo day on February 22, 2014 at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
  8. Longoria tests arm, returns to third base for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Evan Longoria was feeling pretty good before Wednesday's game since he was able to return to third base, having rested his sore right forearm with two days at DH, and afterward as he rapped three hits and the Rays won 3-1.

    But there were some moments in between.

    In the first inning, when he made a bad baserunning blunder that limited, though didn't eliminate, the Rays' bid to take an early lead. And in the eighth, when a hard-hit ball went off his glove and through his legs....

    Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria watches his single in the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, in Baltimore. Longoria had three hits as the Rays won 3-1. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) MDPS113
  9. Smyly sharp again as Rays beat Orioles

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Through nothing but the circumstance of being traded for each other, Drew Smyly is going to be oft-compared to former Rays ace and Cy Young Award winner David Price.

    And, if things keep going the way they are now, that's going to be tough — for Price.

    Smyly on Wednesday turned in a second straight dazzling outing, leading the Rays to a 3-1 win by holding the Orioles to two hits over seven innings....

    Shortstop Yunel Escobar gives manager Joe Maddon a leaping high-five after the Rays held the powerful Orioles to two hits.
  10. For starters, Rays at Orioles, trying to salvage something


    UPDATE, 6:01: OF Kevin Kiermaier is back in the Rays lineup after missing two games with a stiff neck and Evan Longoria is back at 3B after giving his sore right forearm a rest with two days at DH.

    Otherwise, it was a quiet pre-game for the Rays, with no on-field activities aside from some pitchers playing catch.

    Maddon said Longoria is not 100 percent but said he was good enough to play the field and they don't have any special handling planned....

    Drew Smyly will be on the mound for the Rays tonight, coming off his first professional complete game.
  11. Sloppy Rays fall to Orioles

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — After his team lost another game 4-2 Tuesday and didn't look good in doing so, manager Joe Maddon insisted there was not much difference between his fourth-place, under-.500 Rays and the American League East-leading Orioles.

    "They're so much ahead of us but you can see how close the two teams actually are in regard to ability and talent and everything else," Maddon said. "At this particular moment the teams are pretty evenly matched."...

    Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb pitches in the first inning. Cobb throws 92 pitches in four innings, striking out six and allowing two runs.
  12. MLB denies Rays' protest over Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Major League Baseball heard, deliberated, ruled on and Tuesday ultimately denied the Rays' protest of Saturday's loss in Toronto. But it sounds like they never had much of a chance.

    That's because MLB apparently ignored the actual points of the Rays' protest over what they felt was the improper use of replay by citing rules that say neither replay issues nor umpires' judgment calls are subject to protest....

    Rays manager Joe Maddon, watching Tuesday’s game against the Orioles, was disappointed that his protest of Saturday’s loss at Toronto was denied.
  13. Rays: Wil Myers, Cards' Shelby Miller team for MLB video game

    The Heater

    Rays at Orioles

    When/where: 7:05 tonight, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: LH Drew Smyly (8-10, 3.44)

    Orioles: RH Kevin Gausman (7-5, 3.81)

    On Smyly: Coming off a two-hit Friday shutout, his first pro complete game. Has allowed three or fewer runs in all four starts since coming to Rays. Is 1-0-1, 0.64 in four games vs. O's....

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 2:  Newley acquired pitcher Drew Smyly #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on from the dugout before the start of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on August 2, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) 477587297
  14. Longoria has soreness in right forearm, says no DL stint necessary


    There's a reason Evan Longoria is DH-ing for a second straight day for the Rays - he has soreness in his right forearm.

    Longoria said he has been bothered by the soreness for about five days, though it is only an issues when he throws - adding later that it "just hurt" when he threw but wasn't limiting - but not when he is hitting.

    Longoria said he will not have to go on the DL or even have an MRI and expects to be back at third base on Wednesday, confident playing through the soreness won't lead to a further injury....

  15. For starters, Rays at Orioles, after a thumping


    UPDATE, 4:51: Orioles lineup, similar after the 5-homer showing last night:
    Markakis rf
    Pearce 1b
    Jones cf
    Cruz dh
    Young lf
    Hardy ss
    Davis 3b
    Joseph c
    Schoop 2b
    Chen p

    UPDATE, 4:14: Hanigan is back in the Rays lineup, and Longoria is the DH for a second straight day as the result of soreness in his right forearm.

    Rays lineup:...

    The Rays today activated catcher Ryan Hanigan from the DL, sending Curt Casali to the minors temporarily.