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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 at Red Sox, with the same new look

    Blog

    Having scored five runs Monday after shaking up the lineup, manager Kevin Cash is sticking with what worked as the Rays ta: Kiermaier cf, Souza rf, Loney 1b, Longoria 3b, DeJesus lf, Forsythe 2b, Cabrera ss, Butler dh, Wilson c, Smyly p ke on the Red Sox again tonight.

    The only change in the lineup is at catcher, where Bobby Wilson, who is 0-for-his-last-15, replaces Rene Rivera, who is in an 0-for-17 skid....

  2. Informed speculation on Rays' Alex Cobb: Partial tear in elbow

    Blog

    Rays RHP Alex Cobb's season may be very much in jeopardy.

    Informed speculation is that a new more detailed MRI revealed a partial tear in his elbow ligament, the Tampa Bay Times has learned, which in the short term puts him on a program of rest and treatment and longer-term could lead to surgery.

    Cobb could undergo various treatments, such as PRP therapy, where platelet rich plasma is used to speed healing, and try to pitch through it. If that doesn't work and rest doesn't help, he may have no choice but to undergo surgery, which would sideline him for the rest of this season and if a Tommy John procedure was required he could miss a large portion, or even all of 2016, as well....

    Alex Cobb in the dugout during a March 19 spring training game between the Rays and Minnesota Twins at Charlotte Sports Park.
  3. Rays tweak lineup, whip Red Sox at Fenway (w/video)

    The Heater

    BOSTON — Change, apparently, did the Rays did good Monday.

    With manager Kevin Cash significantly renovating a batting order that had produced 10 runs over the previous six games, the Rays went relatively wild in posting a 5-1 win over the Red Sox.

    "It helps a little bit,'' Cash said. "I thought we pieced together some really good at-bats. … There were a lot of good things, a lot of positives.''...

    Clay Buchholz, waiting for Joey Butler to finish his home run trot, gives up four runs in the first two innings but manages to pitch into the seventh.
  4. Rays-Red Sox preview

    Rays-Red Sox preview

    The Heater

    Rays at Red Sox

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Fenway Park, Boston

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Probable pitchers Rays: LH Drew Smyly (0-0, 3.38) RED SOX: RH Rick Porcello (2-2, 5.34) On Smyly: Has made two solid starts since coming off the DL due to spring shoulder tendinitis. Is 2-0, 2.82 ERA in five games (three starts) vs. Red Sox. Has never lost to an AL East team....

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Drew Smyly #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a photo on photo day at Charlotte Sports Park on February 27, 2015 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  5. Rays put Alex Cobb's rehab on hold after setback

    The Heater

    BOSTON — RHP Alex Cobb's return to the Rays rotation is on hold again as concerns grow about the possibility of a more serious injury, and potential talk of surgery.

    Cobb had what manager Kevin Cash described as "a little bit of a setback" over the weekend and will be shut down from throwing for at least several days to see how he responds.

    Cobb was examined again by team orthopedist Dr. Koco Eaton, but the team did not provide details of that visit. It would seem reasonable that Cobb will also be seen by noted specialist Dr. James Andrews, who heads the Rays' medical team....

    Rays starter Alex Cobb throws in the bullpen during spring training in Port Charlotte. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  6. Rays Alex Cobb has setback, will be shut down for a few days

    Blog

    Rays RHP Alex Cobb has had a setback in his return for a forearm strain and will be shut down from throwing for at least a few days to see how he responds.

    Cobb also was examined again by Dr. Koco Eaton, but the Rays say they won't know more for a couple days.

    "A little bit of a setback," Cash said. "Just doesn't feel quite right.''

    Cobb, the Rays top starter, has been out since leaving a March 17 spring game in Clearwater. After extended rest, he started throwing off a mound last week....

  7. For starters, Rays at Red Sox

    Blog

    UPDATE, 6:05: The Rays have shaken up their lineup, dropping struggling Asdrubal Cabrera, who is 0-for-his-last-14, to seventh in the order. That makes James Loney the new No. 3 hitter, and puts OF Kevin Kiermaier at the top of the order, with OF David DeJesus now fifth. C Rene Rivera is in an 0-for-13 skid, DeJesus is 0-for-17 and Evan Longoria 0-for-7.

    Also expect OF Steven Souza Jr., who is 0-for-his-last-17 with 12 strikeouts to get a day off Tuesday or Wednesday....

  8. Rays put Desmond Jennings on disabled list

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays finally made the decision to put OF Desmond Jennings on the disabled list, confident the issue in his left knee is no worse than bursitis but unsure exactly when he will return.

    Though hopeful Jennings will be back May 11 — the DL move was backdated to April 26, the day after Jennings' last game — manager Kevin Cash said Sunday there is no timetable for his return. OF Joey Butler was called up from Triple-A Durham to take his place....

     Desmond Jennings pauses after grounding into a fielders choice with bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth during the Tampa Bay Rays game against the Boston Red Sox Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times]
  9. Rays-Red Sox preview

    The Heater

    Rays at Red Sox

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Fenway Park, Boston

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Jake Odorizzi (2-2, 2.41)

    RED SOX: RH Clay Buchholz (1-3, 5.76)

    On Odorizzi: Has worked into seventh in each of five starts, though has lost past two decisions. Is 1-2, 3.69 in six starts vs. Red Sox (including April 23 no-decision), but 0-2, 8.25 in three at Fenway....

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Jake Odorizzi #23 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a photo on photo day at Charlotte Sports Park on February 27, 2015 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  10. Orioles 4, Rays 2: Bullpen wastes Karns' sharp, short start (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As Kevin Cash has managed through a tumultuous, injury-marred first month, he has shown a tendency to rely heavily on the Rays' bullpen and has usually been rewarded.

    But that faith and confidence have made him a little greedy, as he showed Sunday in pulling starter Nathan Karns after five shutout innings and only 66 pitches. It cost the Rays, as relievers Brandon Gomes, Steve Geltz and Kevin Jepsen combined to turn a two-run lead into a 4-2 loss to the Orioles....

    Manny Machado slides past Rays catcher Rene Rivera to score on Rey Navarro’s single in the sixth inning, pulling the Orioles within 2-1.
  11. Matt Moore feels "really good" in facing hitters for 1st time

    Blog

    Rays LHP Matt Moore said he "felt really good" throwing to hitters for the first time since his April 2014 Tommy John elbow surgery.

    Moore threw 25 pitches to Nick Franklin, Jake Elmore and Tim Beckham, mixing in fastballs, curves and changeups. He was clocked in the 89-92 mph range on his fastball, which manager Kevin Cash said was good.

    Moore acknowledged there was "a new intensity" facing hitters from the throwing he had been doing....

    Matt Moore throwing to hitters Sunday at the Trop.
  12. For starters, Rays "at" Orioles, at the Trop

    Blog

    UPDATE, 1:07: Cash said they are comfortable with the diagnosis of bursitis on Jennings and hope he will be back when his DL stint ends May 11 but won't put any pressure or deadline on him. ... In the interim, Cash said to expect to "see a lot" of Butler, who will DH and play LF against LHPs and some RHPs. ... Butler said he was with his Durham Bulls teammates watching the fight last night when he got word and was obviously pleased to be back in the big leagues....

  13. Rays place Jennings on DL, call up OF Joey Butler

    Blog

    UPDATE, 1:09: Cash said they are comfortable with the diagnosis of bursitis on Jennings and hope he will be back when his DL stint ends May 11 but won't put any pressure or deadline on him. ... In the interim, Cash said to expect to "see a lot" of Butler, who will DH and play LF against LHPs and some RHPs. ... Butler said he was with his Durham Bulls teammates watching the fight last night when he got word and was obviously pleased to be back in the big leagues....

  14. Rays' Desmond Jennings a late scratch, may go on DL

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — OF Desmond Jennings was set — "100 percent ready," manager Kevin Cash said — to rejoin the Rays' lineup at DH on Saturday night, with plans to play again today.

    But as Cash walked the lineup card to home plate, he decided that between the way Jennings looked running in the outfield and what he said in their pregame talk, playing against the Orioles wasn't a good idea and scratched him due to recurring soreness in his left knee....

    Desmond Jennings is a late scratch with left knee soreness and may be headed to the disabled list.
  15. Rays-Orioles preview

    The Heater

    Rays "at" Orioles (at the Trop)

    When/where: 1:35 today; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Tickets: $15, general admission, lower level only (excluding home plate club), available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store, by phone at toll-free 1-888-326-7297 and 1-800-745-3000.

    Gates: Open 12:05 p.m.; gates 1, 4, 5, 6 only....

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Nathan Karns #51 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a photo on photo day at Charlotte Sports Park on February 27, 2015 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)