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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 struggles continue, lose 7-1 to Indians

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    With the lineups the injury-depleted Rays have run out some nights, it seems it could be just a matter of time before they get no-hit. They made it interesting again Monday, as for the second time in a week they were on the wrong end of a perfect game into the seventh inning.

    Grady Sizemore, of all people, saved them from the potential ignominy, breaking up Cleveland rookie Cody Anderson's bid for perfection with a one-out homer in the seventh inning of an otherwise unsuspenseful 7-1 loss....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Nathan Karns (51) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cleveland Indians in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, June 29, 2015.
  2. Rays-Indians preview; Jaso dreadlocks

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Indians

    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 Erasmo Ramirez (6-2, 4.23)

    INDIANS: RH Danny Salazar (6-3, 4.06)...

     Erasmo Ramirez delivers in the first during the Tampa Bay Rays game against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field Wednesday, May 13, 2015 in St. Petersburg, FL.
  3. Matt Moore to rejoin Rays rotation Thursday

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — With a 35-pitch bullpen session Monday, LHP Matt Moore cleared the final hurdle in completing his recovery and rehab from April 2014 Tommy John surgery and will rejoin the Rays rotation Thursday.

    "Definitely ready to go," he said.

    As long as the road back has been, the 2013 All-Star said there are times when the 14 months feels like a blur.

    "To be back here finally knowing I don't have another plane ride or any more rehab starts feels good," he said. "I'm just happy to be back, and be back with the guys. That's the big thing, my teammates and wanting to contribute and be a part of what's going on here. The clubhouse and the dugout, that's probably been the hardest part missing out."...

    Left-hander Matt Moore, who was an All-Star in 2013, is set to make his first major-league start since having Tommy John surgery in April 2014.
  4. Matt Moore set to start Thursday for Rays

    Blog

    LHP Matt Moore is set to rejoin the Rays rotation on Thursday.

    Moore threw a 35 pitch bullpen on Monday at the Trop, the last hurdle to his return from April 2014 Tommy John surgery.

    "Definitely ready to go,'' Moore said.

    The Rays already made room in the rotation for Moore by optioning RHP Matt Andriese to Durham on Sunday. They will need to make room on the active roster for Moore, likely at the expense of a position player....

    Matt Moore threw a 35-pitch bullpen on Monday at the Trop, the last hurdle to his return from April 2014 Tommy John surgery.
  5. For starters, Rays vs. Indians, with Kiermaier back in lineup

    Blog

    UPDATE, 6:13: INF Alexi Casilla, who had been at Triple-A Durham, was traded to the Tigers for cash considerations. He joined Triple-A Toledo, which - conveniently - is hosting Durham tonight.

    UPDATE, 5:47: RHP Alex Cobb is heading to Arizona next week to spend the next six months rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He will work at a private facility, that comes highly recommended and approved by the Rays, so he can he get primary attention throughout the process.
    ...

    Kevin Kiermaier is back in the Rays lineup after a two-game absene, playing center field and batting leadoff.
  6. Injured starting pitchers nearing return for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — After months of figuring out how to fill out their injury-ravaged rotation, Rays officials are now facing a different — and much more enjoyable — problem in sorting out how to fit in their returning pitchers.

    RHP Erasmo Ramirez came through his Friday bullpen session with no issues from his groin strain and is set to start Tuesday.

    But it gets trickier after that as the team tries to align the planned returns of LHP Matt Moore, who is set to return this week, and RHP Jake Odorizzi, who expects to be back next week, and set up the rest of the rotation around them and decide whom to drop....

    Left-hander Matt Moore is expected to rejoin the Rays’ starting rotation this week after Saturday’s five-inning, 96-pitch rehab start for Triple-A Durham.
  7. Rays-Red Sox preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Red Sox

    When/where: 1:10 today; Tropicana Field

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

    Tickets: $21-300, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Promotion: Retro tin lunch box for kids 14 and under, postgame KIDZ BOP concert.

    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: Joey Butler's long journey to prove himself

    The Heater

    The one thing the Rays knew about Joey Butler was that he could hit. Team officials determined that looking at his statistical profile as he spent the bulk of seven years battling through the minors and stints in Venezuela, Mexico and Japan, getting just 17 big-league at-bats. New Rays manager Kevin Cash had witnessed it firsthand, when they were teammates on a 2011 Rangers Triple-A Round Rock team that featured Chris Davis and other future big-leaguers....

  9. Andriese brilliant as Rays beat last-place Red Sox

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rookie Matt Andriese had just completed his sixth sterling inning Saturday, allowing a lone single in retiring 18 of the 19 Red Sox he faced and throwing only 70 pitches in the best outing of his brief big-league career. But as he sat in the Rays dugout, he wasn't the least bit surprised to see manager Kevin Cash headed his way to tell him his day was done.

    "I had a feeling," Andriese said. "Cash came up to me and said, 'That's it. You did a great job and got us to this point.' … It's just the way we do things over here. We have a lot of trust in our bullpen."...

    Matt Andriese allows only one hit and throws 70 pitches in six innings.
  10. For starters, Rays vs. Red Sox, seeking to get back on a roll

    Blog

    UPDATE, 3:08: RHP Erasmo Ramirez got through his bullpen session on Friday with no issues from the groin strain that forced him from last  Saturday's game and is set to start Tuesday.

    UPDATE, 2:55: The Rays announced the changes reported in the Saturday Times, that scouting director R.J. Harrison will move up to be senior adviser for scouting/baseball operations and Rob Metzler will take over the drafts as director of amateur scouting....

  11. Scouting director R.J. Harrison moving up to senior advisor

    Blog

    UPDATE, 2:59: The Rays announced the moves today, official on July 17.

    Baseball operations president Matt Silverman said, in a statement:

    "These changes reflect both our confidence in the direction of our amateur scouting department and our hope for its continued evolution. I am grateful for R.J.'s leadership of the department through this year's draft and for the past 10 seasons. It's only because of his guidance and mentorship that we are in position to take these next steps."...

  12. Analysis: Hardworking Rays bullpen might need some relief

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — In a season that becomes less young and thus more remarkable every day, there is no bigger reason the Rays are approaching the midpoint sitting atop the American League East than the impressive work of their bullpen.

    And no bigger potential pitfall to staying there than working that bullpen too hard.

    "I think once we get more into the dog days of July and August, when you're tired, that's when we'll find out more," said Kevin Jepsen, one of the veteran relievers the Rays are riding hard. "I hope it's fine and normal, like a normal season. Because it's different. The strategy is different. So we don't know how it's going to end with that many innings on a daily basis. It will be interesting to see."...

    Brad Boxberger is among relievers who have pitched nearly 40 percent of the Rays’ innings.
  13. Rays trade for Angels first baseman Marc Krauss

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays finally opted for a better left-handed hitting option at first base, acquiring Marc Krauss from the Angels on Thursday and optioning Nick Franklin to Triple-A Durham.

    Krauss, 27, has spent most of the past four years at Triple A but has options left. In parts of three seasons with the Angels and Astros, he hit .194 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 130 games....

    dream duo: Jake Elmore and Mark, one of the Dream Children, strut their stuff during the annual Rays on the Runway fashion show, benefiting the Children’s Dream Fund, on Wednesday at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront.
  14. Rays acquire 1B/OF Marc Krauss, option Nick Franklin to Durham

    Blog

    The Rays opted for a better left-handed hitting option at first base, acquiring Marc Krauss from the Angels and optioning Nick Franklin to Triple-A Durham.

    Krauss, 27, has spent most of his career in the minors. In part of three seasons with the Angels and Astros, he has hit .194 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 130 games.

    "Marc is a disciplined hitter who brings left-handed power to our club,'' Rays baseball operations VP Erik Neander said in a statement. "He's a good fit for our present roster and we expect him to help us against right-handed pitching, primarily at first base."...

  15. Senior VP Mark Fernandez resigns, says it was 'time for something new"

    Blog

    Rays senior vice president/chief sales officer Mark Fernandez resigned Thursday after 10 years with the team.

    Fernandez said he has no new job lined up and wished the Rays well.

    "For me, it was time for something new,'' he said.

    Fernandez said the Rays struggles with majors-low attendance and the lack of progress in getting a new stadium did not factor into his decision.

    "Oh gosh, I never even thought about that,'' he said. ""Truly, truly that wasn't a factor. ... Completely a non-factor.''...