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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


Blog: The Heater

Twitter: @TBTimes_Rays

  1. Change in minors: Dave Myers let go, Ozzie Timmons promoted


    Ozzie Timmons will move up and replace Dave Myers as the Rays Triple-A hitting coach.

    Timmons, 45, has been a coach in the Rays system for nine seasons, working his way from short-season to Class A and then to Double-A Montgomery. Timmons is a product of Brandon High and the University of Tampa, and played briefly for the Rays in 2000, having spent parts of five seasons in the majors during a 16-year pro playing career.

    Myers, 56, had been with Durham for seven seasons, having spent the bulk of his career in the Seattle organization, including four seasons as a big-league coach.

    More moves are coming to the minor-league staff, as the Rays plan to replace Timmons internally....

  2. Cubs power past Cardinals for 2-1 lead in NLDS

    The Heater

    CHICAGO — The Cubs were banking on starter Jake Arrieta continuing his remarkable run to push them ahead Monday in the best-of-five National League Division Series with the Cardinals.

    When that didn't work out as planned, they turned to a pretty good plan B, hitting a postseason record six home runs in an 8-6 victory.

    Now Joe Maddon's boys can clinch their first trip back to the NL Champion­ship Series since 2003 this afternoon in Game 4 at raucous Wrigley Field, with former Ray Jason Hammel on the mound for Chicago against veteran John Lackey, who will be working on short rest....

    Jorge Soler homers in the sixth inning, one of six hit by the Cubs in their NLDS Game 3 win.
  3. Former Rays manager Joe Maddon fulfills promise to Cubs fans

    The Heater

    CHICAGO — For a guy who always lives — though not necessarily drives — in the present, Joe Maddon allowed himself a momentary look back Monday morning. Steering his 1976 Dodge Tradesman van with the southwestern-themed side mural, ear-splitting sound system and shag carpet past the Cubby Bear bar on his way to manage the Cubs in their first postseason game at Wrigley Field in seven years, he thought back to his first day on his new job....

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon applauds during Monday’s playoff game against St. Louis. The Cubs won 8-6.
  4. Rays to evaluate handling of pitching staff

    The Heater

    Whether you think the Rays' unorthodox strategy of limiting their young starters to five to six innings worked given their stats — as manager Kevin Cash does — or you think it did not because of the impact it had on the bullpen, know that they plan a thorough review before deciding whether to continue.

    "We learned a lot from this year as a group," baseball operations president Matt Silverman said. "Circumstances changed on us given all the injuries. Certainly the bullpen as we had it constituted (to start the season with too many one-inning-only relievers) didn't fit what we needed....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) walks Kansas City Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain (6) in the third inning of the game between the Kansas City Royals and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 28, 2015. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  5. Rays look to boost offense without sacrificing pitching, defense

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Of all the numbers generated, crunched and sabermetricized throughout a baseball season, the most telling from the Rays' disappointing year might be a single digit:


    That was the margin between the runs they scored (644) and the runs they allowed (642). And that was the difference between being in the playoffs and sitting in the Trop on Tuesday talking about what might have been. And that will be their primary area of concentration for their offseason plans....

    Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash (left) and President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman during an end of the season press conference at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg Tuesday afternoon (10/06/15).
  6. Rays' 2016 shortstop candidates lack experience

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — With free agent SS Asdrubal Cabrera headed elsewhere, the Rays will look primarily at internal candidates Tim Beckham and Nick Franklin to step into the role.

    But they may have to make that decision without knowing if either is ready to play every day because they haven't seen them play enough, a conundrum that can't be readily solved.

    "It's a good question," manager Kevin Cash said. "If they are, they've got to get consistent real quick, and that comes with consistent playing time. As an organization, we have to find out about that. But to say one's ready or not, that's kind of difficult given the sporadic playing time. We like a lot of the things they do at times....

    Kevin Poulin
  7. Disappointed Rays see busy off-season, bright future ahead


    Rays baseball operations president Matt Silverman and manager Kevin Cash wrapped up what both called a disappointing 80-82 season today with a media session at the Trop.

    "Anytime we're sitting here before you guys and not talking about a postseason series, it's a disappointment,'' Silverman said. "We came into spring training believing we had a team that would compete for the playoffs and possibly extend our season deep into the playoffs, and that didn't happen. There are a number of reasons for that.''...

    Rays manager Kevin Cash, during an end of season press conference Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
  8. Rays have options for offseason improvement

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon sat behind the microphones after the Rays ended their 2014 season with a disappointing losing record and spoke predictably optimistically about the prospects for improvement. By the end of the month, both had bailed for new gigs.

    Matt Silverman and Kevin Cash will sit behind the microphones today after the Rays ended their 2015 season with a disappointing losing record and speak predictably optimistically about the future. If nothing else, their words should be more lasting....

    Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) leaves the clubhouse with his dog, Zoey, while riding his PhunkeeDuck transporter in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. Rays players and staff were in the Trop Monday, packing up lockers and equipment and preparing for the off season.
  9. Rays milestones, season leaders

    The Heater


    • RHP Brad Boxberger led the AL with 41 saves, joining Rafael Soriano as the only Rays to do so.

    • 3B Evan Longoria played in at least 160 games for the third straight season. His 482 in that span lead the majors. Per the Rays, the last big-leaguer to play 160-plus in three straight seasons primarily as a third baseman was Pete Rose in 1975-77....

  10. Rays have some reasons for optimism for 2016

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sunday's 12-3 bashing of the Blue Jays allowed the Rays to finish with consolation prizes of reaching 80 wins and avoiding last place in the American League East.

    The bigger goal, of course, is getting to the playoffs. Thus, the larger question is how much they have to improve to get there.

    "We do not think we're far at all," manager Kevin Cash said.

    Amid the disappointment of a losing record in their first season under new management, the Rays have several legitimate reasons to be encouraged about 2016, such as:...

    Mikie Mahtook, high-fiving Brandon Guyer after a homer, is one of several rookies who got a long look this season.
  11. Rays blow out Blue Jays, avoid last place

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays put a good finish on their disappointing season with a 12-3 win Sunday over the Blue Jays that left them in fourth place in the American League East with an 80-82 record.

    "Eighty sounds a lot better than 79," manager Kevin Cash said.

    The Rays won five of their last six to get there, but that didn't erase the struggles they had during the season, a combination of injuries, inconsistent performances and lack of depth ultimately catching up to them....

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Joey Butler (9) greeted in the dugout after his two run home run in the fifth inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015.
  12. For starters, Rays vs. Blue Jays in the finale


    UPDATE, 2:18: Buehrle will start for the Jays. ... Cash said Forsythe won't play though he had additional testing done on his foot and it is no worse than a break. ... He said Kiermaier (back) may be available off the bench. ... Cash reiterated there was no injury issue with Archer - "none whatsoever" - and Archer said the same thing, that he feels the same way he does after a start and the only issue was fatigue....

  13. Rays-Blue Jays preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Blue Jays

    When/where: 3:10 today, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 1250-AM, 1550-AM (Spanish)

    Tickets: $7-$275, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster,, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Promotion: Raymond Halloween mask for kids 14 and under

    Probable pitchers...

  14. Rays new brain trust learns some hard lessons

    The Heater


    Nathan Karns was absolutely dealing in that May 3 Sunday matinee against the Orioles, zipping through five innings while allowing two singles and a walk and needing 66 pitches to get there. The Rays were leading 2-0, and there was no reason for anyone in the building to think the 27-year-old rookie wouldn't head back to the mound for the sixth.

    But in the Rays dugout, first-year manager Kevin Cash saw it differently. He had to. His bosses had developed a strategy to maximize the contributions of the replacements in their injury-ravaged rotation. A key element was pulling the starters before they went through the opposing lineup a third time if they had a lead so they could put the game in the hands of their more experienced bullpen....

    Kevin Cash, left, and baseball Matt Silverman chat during spring training, just before an eventful first season running the Rays.
  15. Archer exits early as Rays beat Blue Jays (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Chris Archer insisted he didn't feel anything wrong in making a premature exit after five innings from Saturday's game: "I just didn't feel like myself."

    That was a relief for the Rays, and there was excitement to follow, as 2B Tim Beckham delivered a two-run bases-loaded single with two outs in the ninth to give them a 4-3 walkoff win over the Blue Jays....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) delivers in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015.