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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

  1. Kevin Kiermaier hurts eye .... while stretching legs


      So just how did Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier hurt his left eye?
      By stretching his legs before Monday's game.
      Kiermaier said he was using an elastic stretching band about 30 minutes before game time and went to switch feel when the mishap occurred.
      "I had a little too much slack on it when I was switching legs and the band kind of just squared me up right in the eye,''  Kiermaier said. "I don't know how.''
      Kiermaier said he expects to be back in the lineup Tuesday, though the Rays want to see how he is first before committing.
      Kiermaier said he at first thought he was fine, but realized in tryinh to track Yoenis Cespedes first-inning fly ball he was having trouble with blurred vision, and made it worse by continuing to rub it.
       Though he had an RBI bloop double in the fourth he continued to have problems and said by his sixth inning at-bat, when he struck out, "I couldn't see at all.''
     The Rays took him out at that point.
      "It's the most uncomfortable I've felt in the batters box all year,'' Kiermaier said. "I even told (Tigers C Alex) Avila, "I can't see right now.'' (I'm sure he was) like "Okay, cool, this kid can't see right now." I know I probably shouldn't have said that, but I said, you know what, this is a hang-with-'em type of at-bat.''...

  2. Cabrera activated off DL, Elmore sent down


    SS Asdrubal Cabrera was rained out of a planned rehab game in Port Charlotte Monday, but apparently showed the Rays enough in an afternoon workout that he was over his right hamstring strain, and he will be reinstated from the DL Tuesday.

    To make room, INF Jake Elmore was optioned to Triple-A Durham. Foreshadowing that move, INF Tim Beckham did pregame work at first base, giving the Rays another right-handed hitting option with several lefty starters upcoming, a role Elmore had been filling....

  3. Rays-Tigers preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Tigers

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tickets: $7-200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Jake Odorizzi (5-6, 2.85)

    TIGERS: LH David Price (9-3, 2.31)...

    OAKLAND, CA - MAY 26:  David Price #14 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at O.co Coliseum on May 26, 2015 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
  4. Curt Casali homers twice as Rays beat Tigers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — That wasn't so hard, was it?

    The Rays rapped a few timely hits, including a pair of homers by rookie catcher Curt Casali. They pitched a strong game, Nathan Karns taking a shutout into the seventh and the bullpen taking it from there. They played some good defense, Evan Longoria making the best of a handful of highlight plays.

    And, they won, beating the struggling Tigers 5-2 on Monday....

    Third baseman Evan Longoria throws out Ian Kinsler after diving to knock down his grounder in the fourth inning.
  5. Rays starter Odorizzi expects longer leash from Kevin Cash

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi said a long talk with manager Kevin Cash left him feeling better about getting to stay in games longer.

    Odorizzi was unhappy about being lifted from his last start on Wednesday in Philadelphia for a pinch-hitter after five innings (83 pitches) with a 3-2 lead, and he said so afterward.

    The Rays have employed that plan a number of times, though usually with the lesser established starters than Odorizzi and ace RHP Chris Archer. The premise is to keep the starters from facing hitters for a third time, though the explanation is usually that the relievers provide better matchups....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) throwing in the second inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, July 11, 2015.
  6. Former Ray David Price returns to Trop facing trade rumors again

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — David Price is happy to be back at Tropicana Field again, starting tonight for the Tigers against his former Rays team.

    It's just that circumstances could be better.

    For the second straight year, Price takes the Trop mound for a last-week-of-July start amid significant speculation he will be traded.

    "It's not something you look forward to," he said.

    Though Price is expected to leave Detroit as a free agent after the season, he said he hopes to stay for now and that the disappointing-thus-far Tigers can make it into the playoffs and win the World Series....

    Detroit Tigers starting pitcher David Price throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Saturday, July 18, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) MICO101
  7. For starters, Rays vs. Tigers, still in a rut


    UPDATE, 5:21: LHP Drew Smyly said he was encouraged by his Sunday rehab outing for Durham, that he was clocked in the 90s and his arm felt great. He will make another start on Friday, location TBA, and said it's just a matter now of building up innings. ... OF Desmond Jennings (knee) is slated to start a rehab assignment this weekend with Durham. .... SS Asdrubal Cabrera (hamstring) was washed out off a planned rehab game with Charlotte tonight; the Rays are deciding what to do next as he is close to returning. ... RHP Jake Odorizzi said he had a talk with Cash about being pulled early from his last start and feels things will be "back to normal" now. ... Tigers LHP David Price is excited about pitching here on Tuesday, with his whole family coming in for the game, and said going through the trade process with the Rays last year has made it easier for hin to handle the situation this year.

    Nathan Karns will be on the mound for the Rays, coming off his home-run heroics in Philadelphia.
  8. Rays 'try to be opportunistic' as trade deadline looms

    The Heater

    The Rays typically don't make a big deal of — or make many big deals at — the July 31 deadline for nonwaiver trades.

    With last year's dispatching of LHP David Price the exception, most of their past July dealings under Stuart Sternberg's ownership have been on the margins, acquiring bit parts while making major deals in the offseason.

    So though Sternberg dropped the O-word, saying they will "try to be opportunistic," and though baseball operations president Matt Silverman (in his first deadline in charge) and staff will have myriad conversations, and though the Rays will be rumored to have ubiquitous "interest" in dozens of players, the most probable outcome by Friday's 4 p.m. deadline is that they won't have done much....

    Brad Boxberger, left, and Kevin Jepsen are two of the Rays relievers that might be on the market this week.
  9. Rays ready to talk trades, with Boxberger popular

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Most speculation leading to the July 31 deadline for nonwaiver trades will be on who the Rays could get to bolster their offense.

    But they are more likely to trade away a player from their current big-league roster, specifically one of their top relievers, even if they remain in the playoff race, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

    RHP Brad Boxberger, who has 24 saves and an All-Star selection on his resume, is likely to be the most sought after, and thus have the highest price tag, given his contract status. Boxberger will get only a slight raise from his $521,400 salary next season before the big bump that comes with arbitration eligibility in 2017....

    Reliever Brad Boxberger is likely be the most sought-after Rays player.
  10. Rays-Orioles Friday preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Orioles

    When/where: 7:10 tonight, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tickets: $7-200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    rays: RH Chris Archer (9-7, 2.73)

    orioles: RH Chris Tillman (7-7, 4.96)...

    SARASOTA, FL - MARCH 01:  Pitcher Chris Tillman #30 of the Baltimore Orioles poses on photo day at Ed Smith Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  11. Analysis: Rays need Evan Longoria to regain slugging touch

    The Heater


    The Rays can look within themselves, as manager Kevin Cash suggested, for ways to improve offensively. They can look at the fringes of the trade market, as they typically are wont to do rather than the top shelf, for marginal upgrades. They can look to the disabled list and coo excitedly about the potential benefit of getting Desmond Jennings — Remember him? Ran a little, had some power? — back sometime in August....

    Associated Press
  12. Key bullpen figures struggling for Rays

    The Heater

    PHILADELPHIA — Even when the offense has struggled to score, even when the defense has been occasionally shaky, the Rays have been able to count on their pitching.

    But that is starting to show some cracks, too.

    Reliever Brandon Gomes continued to struggle, failing to hold a 3-2 lead Wednesday against the Phillies by allowing hits to three of the four batters he faced in the fifth, the sixth time in his past 13 outings he has given up runs....

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 22: Brad Boxberger #26 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws a pitch in the 10th inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 22, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 5-4 in 10 innings. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) 538587021
  13. Rays: Historic homer facts about Nathan Karns

    The Heater

    Today: off

    Next game: vs. Orioles, 7:10 p.m. Friday. Probable pitchers: Rays — RH Chris Archer (9-7, 2.73); Orioles — RH Chris Tillman (7-7, 4.96)

    On deck

    Saturday: vs. Orioles, 6:10. Rays — RH Erasmo Ramirez (8-3, 3.54); Orioles — RH Miguel Gonzalez (8-6, 4.21)

    Sunday: vs. Orioles, 1:10. Rays — LH Matt Moore (1-1, 7.23); Orioles — LH Wei-Yin Chen (4-5, 2.78)...

  14. Time for Rays to take stock

    The Heater

    PHILADELPHIA — The Rays don't play today, yet it might be the most important day of the season.

    After a second loss in three days to the worst-in-baseball Phillies, this one an ugly 5-4 10-inning walkoff defeat that the Rays fully earned with arguably their worst performance of the season, manager Kevin Cash said he had seen enough.

    "I don't know what else to say other than that was ugly," he said Wednesday....

    Shortstop Tim Beckham leaps over the Phillies’ Adam Morgan as he tries to corral a throw from Rene Rivera in the second inning.
  15. Rays lose 5-4 in 10 innings


     The Rays did so much wrong Wednesday, it only seemed right that they lost.

     The end came on a walkoff single by Odubel Herrera off All-Star Brad Boxberger, sealing a 5-4 defeat.

    The Phillies rally off Boxberger, working his second inning, started with a bloop single to left by Domonic Brown, a former Pasco High star. He went to second on a bunt, when it seemed Boxberger may have had a play there, and then after an infield out, scored on a single to left-center by Herrera, capping an 11-pitch at-bat....