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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 monitoring situation in violent Baltimore

    Blog

    Rays officials aree monitoring the violent situation in Baltimore in advance of a scheduled weekend series.

    The Rays are scheduled to travel to Baltimore Thursday afternoon and play games Friday and Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon. Players and staff were briefed after their Monday game about the situation by travel director Chris Westmoreland.

    Violence and protests in and around downtown led to postponement of the Orioles' Monday night with the White Sox and put the rest of this week's game, againt the Sox and Rays in question. Also a factor, a weeklong 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew that goes into effect on Tuesday....

  2. Yankees end Rays' winning streak

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — The level of confidence in reliever Brandon Gomes was blatantly obvious Monday night when they brought him in during the fifth inning to replace starter Nathan Karns, who had not given up a run.

    But Gomes failed them, and the Rays couldn't do enough to make up for it, their five-game winning streak ending with a 4-1 loss to the Yankees.

    "This is the first time all year between spring training, Triple A and here where I felt like I actually didn't throw the ball well,'' Gomes said....

    Brian McCann rounds the bases after hitting a go-ahead home run off Rays reliever Brandon Gomes in the sixth inning.
  3. Rays acquire lefty reliever Xavier Cedeno from Dodgers

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — The Rays decided they would be better off with a left-handed reliever after all, acquiring LHP Xavier Cedeno from the Dodgers for cash.

    Cedeno, 28, is expected to join the Rays on Wednesday after heading to St. Petersburg first to be evaluated by the medical staff.

    One concern is that he hasn't pitched in a game since April 13, having been designated for assignment April 14 by the Nationals (after making their opening day roster), traded to the Dodgers (for cash) on Wednesday, designated for assignment by the Dodgers on Friday then acquired by the Rays on Monday....

    Xavier Cedeno, who opened the season with the Nationals, comes to Tampa Bay from the Dodgers to join a bullpen that is down three left-handers.
  4. For starters, Rays at Yankees, looking for a six-pack

    Blog

    UPDATE, 4:23: Though Jennings is not in Rays lineup, am hearing he could be available off bench tonight.

    UPDATE, 4:20: Sounds like there wasn't a setback for Jaso, but just a matter of his progress being so slow that pushing his return to early June by moving him to the 60-day DL was not really a difference. ... RHP Alex Colome is with team after making rehab start Sunday, said he is ready to go and will rejoin rotation this weekend in Baltimore. Friday would seem to make sense, allowing Rays to give Archer an extra day. ... LHP Jake McGee will make his first official rehab appearance on Tuesday, pitching for advanced Class A Charlotte. McGee, coming off elbow surgery, was set back a week or so after his back stiffened up following an extended spring outing. He is likely to make at least three rehab appearances and hopes to rejoin the Rays by the end of next week. ... INF Nick Franklin (oblique) is making enough progress that he is likely to start a rehab assignment by the end of the week. ... RHP Alex Cobb threw a 30-pitch bullpen session today at the Trop, and likely will need to throw two more before advancing to live batting practice and then rehab games. 
    ...

    The Rays will have Nathan Karns on the mound tonight; the Yankees counter with Adam Warren.
  5. Rays acquire LHP Xavier Cedeno, move Jaso to 60-day DL

    Blog

    The Rays made a move to add a lefty reliever today, acquiring LHP Xavier Cedeno from the Dodgers, now run by former executive VP Andrew Friedman, for cash.

    To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rays shifted DH/OF John Jaso from the 15-day to the 60-day DL, meaning his return from a sprained left wrist is pushed into early June. Cedeno won't join the Rays for a couple days, so they don't have to make room on the 25-man active roster until then....

    Xavier Cedeno, 28, has pitched in the majors over parts of the last five seasons with the Astros and Nationals.
  6. Rays' Chris Archer says he wasn't throwing at Blue Jays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Chris Archer faces the Blue Jays again today saying it was their fault words were exchanged during his last start in Toronto as they misunderstood his intentions in hitting two batters.

    When Toronto RHP Marco Estrada retaliated by drilling Rays 3B Evan Longoria in the April 16 game, Archer objected from the Rays dugout — "I said, 'For what? Why?' " — and as the umps told him to cool it, Jays LHP Mark Buehrle chirped back....

    Rays starter Chris Archer, who plunked two Blue Jays in his recent outing in Toronto, says he would never throw intentionally at another batter.
  7. Rays-Blue Jays preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Blue Jays

    When/where: 1:10 today; Tropicana Field

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

    Tickets: $19-$275, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within five hours of game time

    Promotion: Desmond Jennings batting gloves for kids 14 and under

    Probable pitchers...

    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)
  8. Rays Tales: All about Steven Souza Jr.

    The Heater

    Outfielder Steven Souza Jr. has been a hit so far, leading the Rays and ranking among the AL's top rookies with four homers and 11 RBIs.

    And a big part of his success is an unusual pregame routine that includes dark flashing goggles that block his vision and a black drawstring bag of ping-pong and tennis-sized foam balls.

    Souza started wearing the glasses, known as Nike Vapor Strobes, after seeing some Nationals teammates with them in 2012, as a method of vision training that improves his focus and concentration. Operating similarly to a strobe light, the liquid crystal lenses flash between transparent and opaque at an adjustable rate....

  9. Rays rally to beat Jays, win fourth straight

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — By the eighth inning Saturday night, the Rays were a bit in disarray, which is to say somewhat normal these days.

    They were trailing the Blue Jays, they already had gone through four pitchers and their bench had been emptied. A starting outfielder, Desmond Jennings, was in the trainers' room dealing with the latest injury. A starting pitcher, Jake Odorizzi, was in cleats as the next man in....

    Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Tim Beckham (1) swings at the ball in the fourth inning during the MLB baseball game between Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Saturday, April 25, 2015.
  10. For starters, Rays vs. Jays, with Teaford up, Dykstra DFA'd

    Blog

    UPDATE, 3:43: And the Rays did indeed call up LHP Everett Teaford, to provide coverage today in the event Ramirez doesn't last long, and designated for assignment Dykstra.

    Teaford, who pitched parts of three seasons with Royals, spent last year in Korea and said he didn't know if he would ever get back to the majors. Scheduled to start tonight for Triple-A Durham, he said he is ready and willing to do whatever the Rays need in terms of pitching multiple innings or to face a tough lefty....

    Erasmo Ramirez, who struggled mightily in his first two outings, including a start in Toronto, pitched a clean inning on Sunday.
  11. Rays-Blue Jays Saturday preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Blue Jays

    When/where: 6:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

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

    Tickets: $19-$275, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within five hours of game time.

    Promotion: Chris Archer bobblehead for all fans

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Erasmo Ramirez (0-1, 21.32)...

    PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 20:  Erasmo Ramirez #50 of the Seattle Mariners poses for a portrait during spring training photo day on February 20, 2014 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
  12. For starters, Rays vs. Jays, with Smyly and Loney back

    Blog

    UPDATE, 4:58: Rays RHP Alex Cobb said he felt "great" in his first session off the mound since leaving the March 17 spring game with what was diagnosed as elbow tendinitis. .... LHP Jake McGee played catch with no issues from the stiff back that delayed his rehab assignment, and said he will throw a bullpen session Saturday with a plan if that goes well to pitch in a game early next week for the Stone Crabs then likely go to Triple-A Durham, aiming now for a return in the second week of May. .... The Rays took their team photo before the game. ... Cash said a Saturday starter won't be named until after Friday's game, depending on how the relievers are used. It could be RHP Matt Andriese, RHP Erasmo Ramirez or RHP Steve Geltz. ... RHP Alex Colome is expected to make another rehab start on Sunday, though that could change depending on how Friday's game goes....

  13. Rays shuffle roster, and other Thursday leftovers

    Blog

    The Rays made two post-game roster moves, optioning 1B Allan Dykstra and OF Mikie Mahtook, who had been called up earlier in the day, to Triple-A Durham in advance of activating 1B James Loney and LHP Drew Smyly from the disabled list on Friday.

    Also notable in their 2-1 walkoff win over the Red Sox, which got them back to .500 at 8-8:

    * The Rays bullpen not only posted scoreless work in this series, but 12.2 innings overall without allowing a run, with only 4 hits.

    * CF Kevin Kiermaier had eight putouts in centerfield, one shy of team record for an outfielder.

    * The Rays won for the fourth time while scoring two (or fewer) runs, tying the Tigers for most in the majors.

    * C Rene Rivera recorded his second career walk-off hit. Until the ninth-inning single, he three hits in his previous 31 at-bats.

    * Rivera's single was the first walkoff hit by a Rays catcher since Jose Lobaton's homer into the Rays Touch Tank to win Game 3 of the 2013 ALDS against the Red Sox.

    * Starter Jake Odorizzi logged his third game, in four starts, of working at least six inning while allowing three or fewer hits and one or no runs. No other pitcher has had three like that this year, and his 11 since the start of 2014 are three more than any other pitcher in the majors - Seattle's  Felix Hernandez, San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner and Chicago's Jake Arrieta each have done it eight times.
    ...

  14. Rivera gives Rays walkoff win over Red Sox (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — What made for a crowd at Tropicana Field on Thursday night let out a pretty good roar when the final score from the Lightning's 3-2 overtime playoff win over the Red Wings was posted on the video board.

    A few minutes later they had plenty more to cheer about as Rene Rivera delivered the Rays' first walkoff win of the season, 2-1 over the Red Sox, launching a wet and wild celebration that drifted out beyond second base....

    Chris Archer, left, and Desmond Jennings, right, sandwich Rene Rivera, who was batting .118 at the time of his winning shot just inside the third-base line.
  15. Rays-Blue Jays preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Blue Jays

    When/where: 7:10 tonight, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM

    Tickets: $11-$200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: LH Drew Smyly (0-0, 0.00)

    jays: RH R.A. Dickey (0-1, 3.26)...

    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)