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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. Rays: 'Dolphin Tale' actor to sing opening day anthem

    The Heater

    Dolphin tune

    The Rays' opening day national anthem will be performed by Cozi Zuehlsdorff, a 16-year-old singer/actor who appeared in the Dolphin Tale movies filmed in Clearwater. Zuehlsdorff wrote and performed the song Brave Souls for Dolphin Tale 2.

    Number of the day

    10 Consecutive home-opener sellouts if the Rays sell out this year's, as they anticipate, though tickets remain for the April 6 game against the Orioles...

  2. Odorizzi, Karns to follow Archer in Rays' rotation

    The Heater

    PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays manager Kevin Cash said Friday that RHP Jake Odorizzi and RHP Nathan Karns will start Games 2 and 3 of the season. But the order, primarily based on matchups going forward, hasn't been determined.

    "Other than off-days, this is the time you can kind of set for matchups," Cash said. "We don't have five lined-up starters ready to go out of the gate, so we might as well do our homework and pick the best advantages for the pitchers and our team."...

    Jake Odorizzi will start the second game of the season. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  3. Vince Naimoli to throw out first pitch at Rays opener

    The Heater

    PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays are making an unexpected nod to their past in selecting original owner Vince Naimoli to throw out the first pitch before the April 6 season opener.

    Naimoli was chosen in acknowledgement of the team's 20th birthday.

    "We are glad to have Vince Naimoli throw out the first pitch as we recognize 20 years since Tampa Bay was awarded a major-league franchise," current principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. "Vince led the effort to bring baseball here and has continued to enrich the community with his charitable giving."...

    Vince Naimoli led the group that won the franchise in March 1995.
  4. Vince Naimoli to throw out first pitch at Rays opener

    Blog

    The Rays are making an unexpected nod to their past in picking previous team owner Vince Naimoli to throw out the first pitch prior to the April 6 season opener.

    Naimoli was chosen to acknowledge the 20-year anniversary of the franchise being awarded.

    "We are glad to have Vince Naimoli throw out the first pitch as we recognize 20 years since Tampa Bay was awarded a major league franchise,'' current principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. "Vince led the effort to bring baseball here and has continued to enrich the community with his charitable giving.''...

    Vince Naimoli was chosen to acknowledge the 20-year anniversary of the franchise being awarded. [Times files (2008)]
  5. For starters, Rays at Orioles, weather permitting

    Blog

    The Rays and Orioles got 3 1/2 innings in at Ed Smith Stadium before storms arrived from the coast. LHP  Everett Teaford, vying for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, and left-handed reliever Mike Montgomery logged two innings each.

    Baltimore led 4-3 when play was stopped. Facing the Orioles' de facto opening day lineup, Teaford gave up a first-pitch home run to LF Nolan Reimold,  then retired the next six batters he faced....

    Crews prepare to cover the field at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. [JOEY KNIGHT | Times]
  6. Commissioner Rob Manfred calm on Rays stadium issue

    The Heater

    PORT CHARLOTTE — Rob Manfred did lots of talking Thursday during the first visit by a commissioner to Rays spring training camp in 18 years, taking questions from players on pace-of-game changes and marketing initiatives, meeting with top team officials and conducting a series of interviews.

    The one answer he didn't have was what Major League Baseball will do if the Rays don't make progress soon in addressing their biggest problem, the lack of a new ballpark....

    Rob Manfred
  7. Four more cuts: Belisario, Bellatti, Stowell, Velez

    Blog

    The Rays continue to further whittle their spring roster, cutting the number to 44 by reassigning veteran RHP Ronald Belisario, prospect RHP Andrew Bellatti, RHP Bryce Stowell and INF Eugenio Velez.

    More moves are possible Friday as teams can start putting players on the 15-day DL, which also allows for optioned players to be recsalled.

    Belisario, who was sidelined for nearly a month after reporting to camp with a fractured left shoulbder, is expected to be part of the Rays bullpen at some point this season, manager Kevin Cash said, noting his ability to get a lot of ground balls. But because Belisario is just starting to throw bullpen sessions the Rays sent him down to keep preparing....

  8. Rays make it official, it's Archer for starter

    Blog

    The Rays made the obvious official today in naming Chris Archer their opening day starter to replace injured Alex Cobb.

    Archer, who was to start the second game, became the obvious choice once Cobb was sidelined.

    "I'm excited for sure,'' Archer said. "Not excited that Cobb and Smyly and Colome are all three out. I know Cobb was ready to take the ball. This is just a temporary thing.''...

    Chris Archer, who was to start the second game, became the obvious choice once Alex Cobb was sidelined.
  9. MLB commissioner Manfred says stadium is Rays' biggest issue, calls on 'local government' to help

    Blog

    New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said today the lack of a new stadium is the biggest issue facing the Rays and called on local government to provide assistance in resolving the situation.

    "You have to conclude that the stadium issue is the key issue because the Rays have put a great product on the field consistently for a really long period of time,'' Manfred said during a visit to Rays camp this morning. "It's not a situation where you can blame a lack of support on the fact you don't have a good product. (Baseball operations president) Matt (Silverman), (principal owner) Stu (Sternberg), the whole Rays team has done a fantastic job in really difficult circumstances putting a competitive product on the field.''

    While Manfred said "the good news" for Tampa Bay area fans was that Sternberg "remains committed to the idea that the Rays should be here,'' he did put the onus on local government leaders - though he didn't specify St. Petersburg or Tampa - to help.

    "From our perspective it is very difficult to get a new stadium done without cooperation, help, assistance from local government,'' Manfred said. "We're hoping - we're hoping - that Stuart gets that kind of help so that they can get a facility that will keep the Rays and keep them competitive for the long term.''

    Manfred said he will follow Sternberg's lead on the best route and has "no firm timetable" for action, but did say, "Obviously there are 30 teams and it's in everyone's best interests to have 30 strong franchises, and our markets have to participate in making sure that we have major-league quality facilities everywhere.''

    Manfred also said "it's always a concern when we have a franchise that doesn't have the support in terms of attendance, sponsorships, all the revenue streams that are necessary to keep a team competitive. We want all 30 teams to be competitive franchises and obviously local support is the key to that. So it's a big concern for us.''

    Manfred says the Athletics and Rays stadium issues are  "1 and 1-A, they're a single entry in my mind.''...

    New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred talks with Ray pitcher Chris Archer.
  10. For starters: Rays vs. Yankees

    Blog

    UPDATE, 12:30: Greg Auman with an update from manager Kevin Cash's pregame session with the media.

    -- Right-hander Ronald Belisario, coming back from a left shoulder fracture, threw a "really good bullpen," Cash said. "He's going to help us this year, for sure," said Cash, who likes him as a ground-ball pitcher.

    -- The latest on LHP Drew Smyly, recovering from left shoulder tendinitis, is "all good. Everything was good." His next step is another bullpen session, then they'll go from there....

  11. Rays: Longoria joins national New Balance campaign

    The Heater

    Starring role

    Rays 3B Evan Longoria is featured in a national ad campaign for New Balance's new Fresh Foam Zante shoe line, appearing with track standout Emma Coburn and ESPN SportsCenter/radio host Scott Van Pelt. The campaign includes ads in ESPN The Magazine and a prominent video on espn.com. Longoria gets off a few good lines in the video, which has him and Coburn taking a break from their training to get "trained" by Van Pelt in doing his job. "It was a lot of fun to do," Longoria said. See the video on tampabay.com/blogs/rays....

  12. Matt Andriese impressing in bid for Rays' rotation

    The Heater

    FORT MYERS — Rays manager Kevin Cash joked before Wednesday's game that starter RHP Matt Andriese was so quiet, he couldn't recall if he'd heard him speak.

    But Andriese is getting plenty of attention for his pitching, furthering his bid for an unlikely spot in the injury-depleted season-opening rotation with five shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out six, in Wednesday's 2-1 win over the Twins....

    Matt Andriese pitches five shutout innings against the Twins and impresses the Rays with his control and his poise.
  13. Rays face tough roster decisions with season approaching

    The Heater

    FORT MYERS — With the season starting in just 11 days, the Rays are talking about a lot of things they wouldn't have expected to be.

    Such as how Nathan Karns is one of their top three starters, Logan Forsythe is the primary second baseman, Mike Montgomery is likely to pitch meaningful innings and Tim Beckham looks like a lock to make the opening day roster.

    Spring training injuries/illness that have sidelined three of their top five starting pitchers and the lead in their second base platoon, in addition to a sprinkling of surprises, can do that....

    Rookie infielder Tim Beckham is only 5-for-33 this spring, but he’s likely to make the Rays because he’s on the 40-man roster and can play multiple positions.
  14. Evan Longoria featured in national New Balance ad campaign

    Blog

      Rays 3B Evan Longoria is featured in a national ad campaign for New Balance's new Fresh Foam Zante shoe line, appearing with track standout Emma Coburn and ESPN SportsCenter/radio host Scott Van Pelt.

       The campaign includes print ads in ESPN The Magazine and a prominently placed video on ESPN.com, and may grow from there.

        The storyline in the video is that Longoria and Coburn take a break from their training to get trained by Van Pelt in doing his job - and it's actually pretty funny....

  15. For starters: Rays at Twins, for the last time

    Blog

    UPDATE, 11:16: With INF Nick Franklin likely out at least a few weeks into the season, Logan Forsythe will get the bulk of the playing time at second base. There's a chance that two of the other three middle infielders will now make the team, from the group of Tim Beckham and non-roster invitees Jake Elmore and Alexi Casilla.

    Manager Kevin Cash said the reports on Cobb were good.

    In talking about the rotation vacancies, Cash acknowledged that Karns is pretty much in, and that the other two spots are "up for grabs.'' RHP Matt Andriese, who starts today, is a leading candidate....

    Catcher Rene Rivera is expected back in the lineup after missing the last few days due to left calf tightness.