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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


Blog: The Heater

Twitter: @TBTimes_Rays

  1. As Kiermaier emerges, should Rays seek long-term deal?

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Kevin Kier­maier took another leap into prominence, and the major-league relevance he craves and deserves, with his spectacular home run-robbing catch Monday night.

    Right before our eyes, Kiermaier has grown from defensive specialist at the end of 2013 to part-time starter in 2014 to everyday big-leaguer in 2015, and is on the verge of being considered a legitimate impact, even All-Star, player....

    Kevin Kiermaier of the Tampa Bay Rays hits a home run off of pitcher Luke Hochevar of the Kansas City Royals during the sixth inning of a game on Aug. 30 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
  2. Despite milestone, Evan Longoria aims for more

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — 3B Evan Longoria was happy to hit his 200th, and then 201st, career homers Wednesday, but he took a big-picture view of his milestone accomplishments.

    "The personal achievements are great and all, and it's something that, eventually, I'll be able to tell my kids and my grandkids that I achieved," he said. "But I think the guys that have been around long enough, we all just want to win now. We want to be able to play in the playoffs and ultimately win the championship....

    Evan Longoria celebrates after hitting a home run in the ninth — No. 201 for his career — against the Orioles on Wednesday.
  3. Rays rookie dress-up features grass skirts


    Even a crushing walkoff loss can't interfere with the baseball tradition of a rookie dress-up trip, so there were seven players, plus a bullpen catcher, in grass skirts and bikini tops for the late-night train ride to New York.

    The group included LHP C.J. Riefenhauser, C Luke Maile, OF Mikie Mahtook, RHP Matt Andriese (who gave up the game-losing homer), LHP Enny Romero, OF Joey Butler and INF/OF Richie Shaffer. Also, bullpen catcher Misha Dworken....

    Rays rookies dressed up include, from left:  C.J. Riefenhauser, Misha Dworken (bullpen catcher), Luke Maile, Mikie Mahtook, Matt Andriese, Enny Romero, Joey Butler, Richie Shaffer.
  4. Rays fall to Orioles on walkoff homer; Longoria hits 200th, 201st homers (w/ video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — The Rays looked like they were going to lose another game they should have won Wednesday when they let an early four-run lead get away.

    That was just a cruel hint of what was to come, as they battled back to take a two-run lead only to see Brad Boxberger blow it in the ninth and rookie Matt Andriese lose it in the 11th.

    The end came suddenly, when Chris Davis crushed a 3-and-0 pitch over the centerfield wall to start the 11th, turning a night that started well and included Evan Longoria's 200th career home run into a crushing 7-6 final....

    Chris Davis, left, charges through a gauntlet of teammates after hitting his winning home run in the 11th inning.
  5. Rays: off

    The Heater

    Today: off

    Next game: at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Friday, Yankee Stadium, New York.

    Probable pitchers: Rays — RHP Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 3.18); Yankees — RHP Luis Severino (2-2, 2.17

    On deck

    Saturday: at Yankees, 1:05. Rays — LH Matt Moore (1-3, 8.78); Yankees — RH Nathan Eovaldi (14-2, 4.17)

    Sunday: at Yankees, 1:05. Rays — RH Chris Archer (12-10, 2.78); Yankees — RH Ivan Nova (5-7, 4.50)...

  6. Moore replaces Karns in Rays rotation, for now

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — The Rays put LHP Matt Moore back in the rotation and bumped RHP Nathan Karns to the bullpen — for now.

    Manager Kevin Cash said the change is subject to, well, change. The decision to start Moore ahead of Karns on Saturday in New York was based on a better matchup in starting a lefty against the wild-card-leading Yankees, and decisions on future starts may be made similarly....

    Matt Moore’s first start in his return from the minors comes Saturday against the Yankees, a decision made based on a more favorable matchup.
  7. For starters, Rays at Orioles, with Kiermaier and Forsythe back


    UPDATE, 6:09: LHP Matt Moore is starting Saturday in New York, bumping RHP Nathan Karns to the bullpen at least for now. Cash said Moore is the better matchup against the Yankees, and that they will look at it on a game by game basis. But it also sounded like it was an either/or situation as the other four starters will stay on schedule. .... Karns handled it well, saying he just wanted to do what was best for the team and was willing to help however. .... He also said he was told that there was a chance he could start again. ... Cash said both Kiermaier and Forsythe are good to go, though Forsythe said he wanted to test his groin further fielding ground balls in batting practice. ... The threat of rain led the grounds crew to roll out the tarp and cancel the end of the Rays batting practice. ... The Rays don't seem too concerned about chicken pox even though the Royals had two players show symptons at the Trop last weekend; their staff and players all have either had pox or vaccination....

    Both centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, pictured, who left Monday's game with a mild ankle sprain, and second baseman Logan Forsythe, who left Tuesday with left groin tightness, are back in the Rays lineup.
  8. Words of wisdom on Rays lineup card


    The quote of the day on Rays Tuesday lineup card is shown above.


    The quote of the day from Tuesday's lineup  card.
  9. J.P. Arencibia proves Buck Showalter prophetic in beating O's


       Since getting called up last week, C J.P. Arencibia has said several times that he was glad to be with the Rays after all having made the wrong decision during the off-season when he passed on Tampa Bay to sign with the Orioles.

       Tuesday, he got to prove his point to the Orioles, who released him from their minor-league roster shortly after the start of the season, by driving in six runs in the Rays' 11-2 win.

       "What is funny though is that my last meeting with (Orioles manager) Buck Showalter he said, You know, we're going to keep you here and send you to Triple-A and keep you because we know if we let you go you're going to be beating us at some point,'' Arencibia recalled. "So what he told me came to fruition. And I'm glad I could be a part of the win.''

       Arencibia was hurt during part of spring training, and it became clear that the Orioles had other catchers they liked better at both the big-league and Triple-A level.

       But asked Tuesday why the Orioles released him - which allowed him to sign with the Rays Triple-A Durham team, where he spent the season until being called up - he said, "You've got to ask them.''

        And ...

       "I'm glad they did though. I'm very thankful they did.''...

  10. Arencibia, Smyly star as Rays pound Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — J.P. Arencibia knocked in six runs on Tuesday to lead the Rays to an 11-2 win over the fading Orioles that matched their largest margin of victory this season.

    Of course he did.

    And of course they did.

    Because as many nights when the Rays don't look anything like a playoff team, and it seems a matter of time until they all but officially drop out of the wild-card race, they come back and look like they still might be able to make the kind of run they all — from players to field staff to front office execs — talk about being capable of....

    Brandon Guyer gets high-fives in the dugout after he and James Loney score on J.P. Arencibia’s single in the fifth inning.
  11. Rays-Orioles preview

    The Heater

    Rays at Orioles

    When/where: 7:05 tonight; Camden Yards, Baltimore

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

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Erasmo Ramirez (10-5, 3.68)

    ORIOLES: RH Kevin Gausman (2-6, 4.39)

    On Ramirez: Coming off shortest non-injury start, lasting only 41/3 IP vs. Royals on Friday, allowing three runs. Was 2-1, 3.90 in August; 8-3, 2.41 May-July. Is 2-1, 3.35 in five games (four starts) vs. O's....

    SARASOTA, FL - MARCH 01:  Pitcher Kevin Gausman #39 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)
  12. Matt Moore to return to Rays' starting rotation


    BALTIMORE — LHP Matt Moore rejoined the Rays from Triple-A Durham Tuesday with five other callups and is in line to reenter the rotation this weekend in New York.

    Manager Kevin Cash said the Rays were still having final discussions and it should all be sorted out today.

    But since Cash said they were not planning to go to a six-man rotation, and since they obviously aren't going to skip top RH starters Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi or just-off-the-DL LHP Drew Smyly, and since RHP Erasmo Ramirez is starting tonight, that would seem to indicate rookie RHP Nathan Karns may be the odd man out....

    Former All-Star Matt Moore, who struggled in his return from the disabled list, is getting another shot after looking sharp in five starts at Triple A.
  13. Rays designate fading prospect Hak-Ju Lee for assignment

    The Heater

    Former top prospect Lee designated for assignment

    BALTIMORE — SS Hak-Ju Lee came to the Rays as the key piece — more so than RHP Chris Archer — of the five-player package they got from the Cubs in the January 2011 deal for RHP Matt Garza.

    "He was the king of the trade," Archer said, "and I was the bishop."

    But Tuesday, the Rays gave up control of Lee, designating him for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for third C Luke Maile, giving them 10 days to trade or release him or (they hope) pass the former top prospect through waivers....

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Hak-Ju Lee during a pre Spring Training workout at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Friday, Feb. 20, 2015.
  14. Rays DFA previous top prospect Hak-Ju Lee


    In need of space on the 40-man roster to add C Luke Maile, the Rays on Tuesday designated for assignment SS Hak-Ju Lee.

    Lee was once considered the top prize - ahead of RHP Chris Archer - in the five-player package the Rays got from the Cubs for RHP Matt Garza in January 2011.

    Lee was considered the Rays top position player prospect at one point, buit sustained a siginificant left knee injury in April 2013 and never regained his top form....

    Hak-Ju Lee was once considered the top prize — ahead of Chris Archer — in the five-player package the Rays got from the Cubs for Matt Garza in January 2011.
  15. For starters, Rays at Orioles, with reinforcements on hand


    UPDATE, 5:56: Moore will be used as a starter, and Cash said he does not plan to go to a six-man rotation, so that would seem to suggest somebody is going to be dropped from the rotation. Whether that is Erasmo Ramirez after tonight's start or that is Nathan Karns will become clearer in the next day or two. ... Cash said they would prefer to keep Shaffer at 1B, 3B or DH, but there is a chance he could end up in the outfield again anyway.  ... Maile was called up for the first time, so he naturally was the most excited. He admitted that he shed a few tears after getting the word from Durham manager Jared Sandberg late Monday, and said the trip to Baltimore felt like "the longest one-hour flight ever.'' Upon getting to the stadium, Maile said he went out to look at the Camden Yards field but had to turnaround and come back in because "it didn't seem real.'' ...  Cash said Mahtook and Shaffer are likely to be in the lineup vs. LHPs and play occasioally otherwise, and that Riefenhauser and Yates will fill in in the bullpen....

    Camden Yards is dressed for the Ripken anniversary.