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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

  1. Rays-Orioles Monday 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 Chris Archer (11-9, 2.77)

    ORIOLES: LH Wei-Yin Chen (8-6, 3.17)

    On Archer: Coming off a 12-strikeout game he lost to Twins. Has 10 or more K's in team-record-tying nine starts. Is 1-4, 5.06 in eight games (seven starts) vs. O's, winless in his past six, 0-2, 4.08 in three this season....

    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)
  2. Rays avoid season series sweep, rally to beat Royals

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays did more than a few things wrong Sunday, making mistakes of both omission and commission. But they did enough right to win the game, and at this point of the season, that was good enough.

    Kevin Kiermaier homered with two outs in the sixth inning, and the bullpen took it from there as the Rays avoided a season-series sweep by the Royals with a 3-2 win.

    More importantly, they didn't lose any more ground in the American League wild-card race, having started the day 4½ games behind the Rangers at 63-66....

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) celebrates a solo home run to take the lead 3-2 in the sixth inning of the game between the Kansas City Royals and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, August 30, 2015.
  3. For starters, Rays vs. Royals, trying to win one


    UPDATE, 11:39: There is some risk for the Rays in terms of late game moves by having both catchers in the lineup, but the idea was to include Arencibia's bat and also give Cabrera a day off. ... Talked with Don Wakamatsu, the Royals bench coach who was runner-up to Cash for the Rays job, and he said he enjoyed the process and felt the team made the right choice based on where they were. ... Rays are hoping to avoid their first season series sweep of more than six games....

  4. Rays-Royals Sunday preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Royals

    When/where: 1:10 today; Tropicana Field

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

    Tickets: $7-275, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Promotion: DJ Kitty drawstring bag for kids 14 and under.

    Probable pitchers...

    SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 27:  Pitcher Danny Duffy #41 poses during Kansas City Royals Photo Day on February 27, 2015 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
  5. Moore, Snell possible September callups for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHPs Matt Moore and Blake Snell are among the more interesting players being talked about for promotions when rosters can be expanded starting Tuesday.

    The Rays, still finalizing their plans, are likely to make a few callups Tuesday and others after the Triple-A Durham season ends Sept. 7. "We've gone over a bunch of names," manager Kevin Cash said. "I imagine for the most part it'll be a group of guys that we've seen throughout the course of this year."...

    Matt Moore, who struggled with the Rays, has been dominant at Triple-A Durham and may return to the majors when rosters expand in September.
  6. Fading Rays lose again, fall to 0-6 against Royals

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are getting an up-close sense of why the Royals are the class of the American League.

    Saturday was the sixth time the teams played this season, and the sixth time the Rays lost.

    The 6-3 final again showcased a basic difference between the teams: The Royals rarely give away extra outs and relentlessly take advantage of opportunities, and the Rays do — including two errors by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera that led to runs — and don't....

    Jake Odorizzi doesn’t make it out of the fifth inning and is charged with four runs.
  7. Rays Tales: Three veterans helping in playoff push

    The Heater

    As much as the Rays are typically built around young players, they have added, via various circumstances, three veterans who are in position to play key roles down the stretch — C J.P. Arencibia, OF/1B Daniel Nava and OF Grady Sizemore.

    "These guys know what it's like to play in big games," Rays baseball operations president Matt Silverman said. "They come to the park ready to do whatever is needed to win."...

    WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times
  8. For starters, Rays vs. Royals, trying to bounce back


    UPDATE, 4:06: Cash said they have been talking about September call-ups, with a few expected on Tuesday (Sept. 1) and others after Triple-A Durham's season ends on Sept. 7. He said most will be players who were here earlier, though acknowledged that one possibility is LHP Blake Snell, who has had a tremendous run through the minor leagues. ... OF Brandon Guyer on Friday tied the team record in being hit by a pitch for the 18th time this season, and said it was the one that hurt the most....

  9. Ben Zobrist back at Trop, as a Rays opponent (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Walking back into the Trop on Friday as a visiting player was weird for former Rays All-Star Ben Zobrist in a good way.

    "It just feels like home," he said. "I felt like I never left in a way because everything is very similar. I could have easily walked into the other clubhouse and started getting dressed in my old uniform."

    But he isn't a Ray anymore, having been traded after nine seasons in Tampa Bay to the A's in January and then last month to the American League-best Royals....

    Ben Zobrist, wife Julianna and son Zion, 6, enjoy a pregame tribute in Zobrist’s first game at Tropicana Field since he was traded in January.
  10. Rays hold on, edge Twins (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The most important part of the Rays' 5-4 win Thursday over the Twins was the way it ended.

    Because after they came back when Drew Smyly couldn't hold an early lead, and after they got a break from their home-dome advantage, after they took advantage of a couple of scoring opportunities and a Minnesota mistake, and after they got solid middle relief work, they had three outs to go and Brad Boxberger on the mound to get them....

    of the game between the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday, August 27, 2015.
  11. Rays' Jennings will remain out

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — OF Desmond Jennings will miss at least another two weeks as the Rays put him back on the disabled list due to continued problems with his left knee. Now the question is whether he will play again in what already has been a lost season.

    "Just from talking to him the last couple days I know he's frustrated with it and there's just some uncertainty," manager Kevin Cash said. "So I think our best thought was let's get him off his feet and see if 15 days of rest can help."...

    Outfielder Desmond Jennings continues to have problems with his left knee and will miss at least another two weeks.
  12. Rays-Royals Friday preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Royals

    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.

    Promotion: Rays Rally 'Stache to all fans, presented by Dali Museum.

    Probable pitchers...

    Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Edinson Volquez (36) throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers) OHGL104
  13. Jennings back to DL, Butler called up


    The Rays put OF Desmond Jennings back on the DL today with a bruised left knee and called up OF Joey Butler.

    Jennings played 10 games (hitting .353 with 1 homer and 5 RBIs) after coming off the DL following a 3 1/2 month absence due to a left knee injury that led to arthroscopic surgery. The new injury may not be related, as it is a bruise on a different part of the knee.

    Manager Kevin Cash said the thinking in putting him on the DL was to give him 15 two weeks to rest rather than a few and try to play and maybe miss more time. Cash said they expect him to be back this season....

    The Rays put OF Desmond Jennings back on the DL today with a bruised left knee.
  14. For starters, Rays vs. Twins, seeking to avoid a sweep


    UPDATE, 5:20: The Rays went ahead and out Jennings back on the DL and called up Joey Butler. ... James Loney dropped his appeal and is serving his 1-game suspension tonight, conveniently against a lefty starter. .... Arencibia is starting tonight in part because Rivera is likely to play the next three days vs. the running Royals.

    Rays lineup:
    Guyer rf
    Nava 1b
    Longoria 3b
    Forsythe 2b
    Cabrera ss
    Butler lf
    Beckham DH
    Kiermaier cf
    Arencibia c
    Smyly p...

    Drew Smyly, who was much better in his second start since coming off the DL than his first, will be on the mound for the Rays.
  15. Rays call up Arencibia to replace injured Casali

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — C J.P. Arencibia knows plenty about the Rays, having faced them often during his three full seasons with the Blue Jays after his two-homer, four-hit 2010 debut.

    But now Arencibia has to get really familiar with the Rays' pitchers quite quickly. He was called up from Triple-A Durham on Wednesday to be at the least their backup catcher for the next 2-3 weeks with Curt Casali on the DL with a strained left hamstring....

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher J.P. Arencibia in the dugout during the game between the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, August 26, 2015.