Make us your home page

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. Evan Longoria hopeful to be in lineup Friday


    Rays 3B Evan Longoria hopes to be in the lineup Friday but won't know for sure until he sees how his bruised left hip feels after the flight home and a night's sleep.

    "I'm gonna do my best to play,'' Longoria said after the game in Toronto. "Gut feeling right now is I would play. There's nothing structurally wrong. So unless I wake up and I can't walk tomorrow morning I'll be in there.''...

  2. Rays: April powers; Souza's long distance

    The Heater

    April powers

    Wednesday night was historic, according to Elias, the only time in major-league history four rookies hit home runs in an April game — Mikie Mahtook and Steven Souza Jr. for the Rays, Dalton Pompey and Devon Travis for the Jays. Had Tim Beckham not been robbed of a homer on a spectacular leaping catch by LF Kevin Pillar, it would have been the first time in big-league history that five rookies went deep....

    TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Adam Warren #43 of the New York Yankees poses for a portrait on February 27, 2015 at George M. Steinbrenner Stadium in Tampa,Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  3. Rays beat Jays, Cash ejected in chippy game

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Chris Archer got his chance to throw 100-plus pitches and did well with it Thursday, striking out 11 in another dominant outing as the Rays beat the Jays 4-2 to head home with a winning record through 10 games.

    But two pitches Archer threw that hit Toronto batters had more eventful repercussions.

    First, as Blue Jays reliever Marco Estrada retaliated in the top of the eighth by intentionally drilling Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, who was forced to leave with a bruised left hip that puts his status for tonight's game — and his streak of 252 straight — in question....

    Rays starter Chris Archer strikes out 11, hits two Blue Jays hitters and is warned about being vocal in the dugout.
  4. Cash ejected in Rays' victory over Blue Jays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — A hit batter call against Rays RHP Steve Geltz led to Kevin Cash's first ejection as manager Thursday, but he said it was more to do with the replay review process as his lost his fifth straight challenge.

    "It was probably frustrations over just the entire replay system,'' Cash said. "I'm confused by it a little bit.''

    Cash challenged the initial call, that Geltz's eighth-inning pitch hit Josh Donaldson's hand, which replay officials in New York reviewed and confirmed....

    A LITTLE HELLO: Evan Longoria avoids an inside pitch in the fourth Thursday, then leaves in the eighth after getting hit on the hip.
  5. For starters, Rays at Jays, on Archer day


    UPDATE, 3:43: The Rays signed C J.P. Arencibia to a minor-league deal and expect him to soon join Triple-A Durham. Arencibia, previously with the Blue Jays and Rangers, was in spring training with the Orioles but was released last week.

    UPDATE, 3:35: With Toronto RHP Aaron Sanchez on the mound, David DeJesus is back atop the Rays lineup at DH.

    Rays lineup:...

    Chris Archer is coming off a dominant start on Saturday in Miami, where he allowed only two baserunners over seven innings.
  6. Rays to retire radio call sign of slain Tarpon Springs officer


    The Rays announced they will retire the radio call sign of slain Tarpon Springs police officer Charles Kondek in a ceremony prior to Sunday's game at Tropicana Field.

    Kondek was killed in the line of duty on December 21, 2014.

    His 285  call sign will be added to the leftfield wall that includes those of three St. Petersburg police officers who were killed in 2011: Thomas Baitinger, Jeffrey Yaslowitz and David Crawford.

    Kondek's wife, Teresa, and children, Holly, Andrew, Charlie, Brandon and Aleena will attend the ceremony along with members of the Tarpon Springs pollice, led by chief Robert Kochen.

    "On behalf of the Tarpon Springs Police Department and the Kondek family, we greatly appreciate the Rays organization for honoring and remembering officer Charles Kondek by having his name displayed inside Tropicana Field," Kochen said in a statement. "We cannot express how much this means to Officer Kondek's family, the Police Department, and our community. Once again, thank you to the Rays organization."...

    Officer Charles Kondek was killed in the line of duty on December 21, 2014.
  7. Erasmo Ramirez, Rays routed by Blue Jays (with video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The primary reason the Rays are above .500 has been the tremendous work of their injury-depleted pitching staff.

    Now if they could just erase Erasmo.

    The Rays knew it was a gamble starting erratic Erasmo Ramirez on Wednesday, and it failed miserably in a 12-7 loss to the Blue Jays that snapped their four-game win streak.

    Ramirez was really no better than in his first outing for the Rays on Friday, allowing nine runs (seven earned) on eight hits and three walks over 31/3 innings, though his ERA actually went down, from 31.50 to a not-quite-tidy 23.63....

    Blue Jays leftfielder Kevin Pillar leaps high over the 
10-foot fence to take a home run away from Rays rookie Tim Beckham during the seventh inning.
  8. Rays: Souza achieves rare triple feat

    The Heater

    Elite company

    OF Steven Souza Jr. joined a select group as the fourth Rays player to have a home run, a bunt base hit and a stolen base in the same game. The first three — and, no, you wouldn't guess them — were OF Alex Sanchez (2005), SS Jason Bartlett (2009) and INF Elliot Johnson (2012).

    Hey, rooks

    With RHP Jose Dominguez replacing RHP Kirby Yates in the bullpen, the Rays are carrying a majors-most eight rookies on their roster: RHP Matt Andriese, INF Tim Beckham, Dominguez, 1B Allan Dykstra, RHP Steve Geltz, RHP Nathan Karns, OF Mikie Mahtook and OF Steven Souza Jr. Dominguez, who has prior big-league time with the Dodgers, will be the 11th player to make their Rays debut thus far....

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Pitcher Chris Archer #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park during photo day on February 26, 2014 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  9. Rays' Chris Archer hoping to get pitch count up

    The Heater

    TORONTO — RHP Chris Archer takes the mound tonight against the Blue Jays hoping to pitch as well as he did Saturday in seven dominant innings against the Marlins.

    And to pitch more.

    While RHP Jake Odorizzi has been allowed to throw 94 and 103 pitches in his starts, and rookie RHP Nathan Karns 95 and 106, Archer has been on something of a short leash at 85 and 84....

    Chris Archer, the Rays’ opening day starter, has yet to eclipse 90 pitches in either of his two starts this season.
  10. For starters, Rays at Jays, with Erasmo on the mound


    UPDATE, 4:51: With Dominguez replacing Yates, Rays now have a major-league most 8 rookie on 25-man roster.

    UPDATE, 4:45: Dominguez said he was pleased to get called up and ready to show he can pitch regularly in the majors. ... Kiermaier said he welcomes the chance to play vs. a LHP and hopes to get the opportunity to be an everyday player.

    Jays lineup:
    Reyes ss
    Donaldson 3b
    Bautista rf
    Encarnacion dh
    Navarro c
    Smoak 1b
    Pillar lf
    Pompey cf
    Travis 2b
    Buerhle p


    Erasmo Ramirez struggled mightily pitching in relief on Friday in Miami.
  11. As expected, Rays call up RHP Jose Dominguez


    As expected, the Rays called up RHP Jose Dominguez to add a fresh arm to their bullpen.

    Dominguez, who last pitched Sunday for Triple-A Durham, will wear No. 52.

    Dominguez, 24, was acquired from the Dodgers in November along with minor-league RHP Greg Harris in a deal for RHP Joel Peralta and minor-league LHP Adam Liberatore.

    He has made 14 previous big-league appearances, nine in 2013 and five in 2014, with a 6.14 ERA. He is a hard-thrower, clocked as high as 100.6 mph in the majors, and supposedly as high as 103 in the minors. He also is cousins with Rays RHP Alex Colome....

  12. Rays to start Ramirez, send down Yates to add fresh arm


    The Rays after Tuesday's game named RHP Erasmo Ramirez to start Wednesday and sent down RHP Kirby Yates in order to add a fresh arm to their bullpen.

    Ramirez seemed the likely candidate unless he was needed in relief Tuesday; he is coming off a brutal Rays debut on Friday in Miami, but the Rays are hoping a few days to settle in will help his performance.

    Yates threw 43 pitches in working two innings on Tuesday, and likely would have been unavailable for at least a few days....

  13. Rays: Remarkable run of starting pitching

    The Heater

    Making their pitch

    • The three straight games (by Chris Archer on Saturday, Nathan Karns Sunday and Jake Odorizzi Monday) for the Rays starters with seven or more innings and two hits or fewer is just the second such streak in AL history, per Elias. It was done previously by the 1992 Athletics, with Mike Moore, Ron Darling and Kelly Downs starting....

  14. Souza leads Rays past Blue Jays for fourth straight win (w/ video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Steven Souza Jr. flexed some muscle in crushing a home run an estimated 463 feet off the centerfield facing of the third deck at Rogers Centre to give the Rays a first-inning lead Tuesday and plenty to talk about.

    "Loud. Loud and impressive," outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said. "The whole bench, of all the baseball you see the whole year, especially the older guys, for people to be wowed by that, it was impressive."...

    Steven Souza Jr., center, celebrates in the dugout after hitting his first home run as a Ray, a solo shot estimated at 463 feet.
  15. Erasmo Ramirez to get start for Rays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The Rays went into Tuesday's game without knowing who was going to start tonight's.

    Their plan hinged on whether RHP Erasmo Ramirez was used in relief. Because he was not, he was announced as tonight's starter. If he had been, they would have made it a collective effort from among their relievers.

    Also, they will add a fresh arm to the bullpen, with RHP Jose Dominguez, a hard thrower who last pitched Sunday at Triple-A Durham, the likely choice. RHP Kirby Yates, who threw 43 pitches in two innings Tuesday, was optioned to Durham after the game. Today is the first day optioned players can be recalled....

    MIAMI, FL - APRIL 10: Erasmo Ramirez #30 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches during the fourth inning of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on April 10, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) 538577213