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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. 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.''...

  2. 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....

    J.P. Arencibia singles in the fifth inning in front of Orioles catcher Matt Wieters and umpire Chris Guccione.
  3. 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....

  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. ESPN asks: Whose catch was better, Kevin Kiermaier's or Mike Trout's?


    Kevin Kiermaier's leaping grab Monday night to pull a Manny Machado home run back from over the Camden Yards outfield wall reminded many folks of a similar catch in 2012 by Angels outfielder Mike Trout at nearly the same spot.

    ESPN put the two together in a video posted early Tuesday morning.

    The catch also got the attention of, where they broke the play down using their Statcast advanced metrics:...

    Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier made a leaping grab at the wall in Baltimore's Camden Yards last night that was reminiscent of Angels CF Mike Trout's catch near the same spot in 2012.
  9. Rays players riding into the future


    Several Rays were riding around the clubhouse and the halls of Camden Yards Monday in style,  trying out their new Futuristically Phunkee Personal Transporters, something of a cross between a skateboard and a Segway.

    1B James Loney ordered them online - about $1,200 each, he said - and LHP Drew Smyly , INF Tim Beckham and OF Brandon Guyer were among those buying in. Others, especially OF Steven Souza Jr., were trying them out....

    The new toy in the Rays clubhouse.
  10. Rays callups: Shaffer, Moore, Mahtook, Maile, Riefenhauser, Yates


    The Rays are calling up six players from Triple-A Durham Tuesday to add to their roster.

    OF Mikie Mahtook, C Luke Maile and INF/OF Richie Shaffer will provide depth and options in the lineup, while LHP Matt Moore is expected to take a spot in the rotation, potentially this weekend against the Yankees.

    The Rays are also adding two arms to the bullpen in bringing up LHP C.J. Riefenhauser and RHP Kirby Yates....

    Since being sent back to Triple-A Durham on Aug. 17, Richie Shaffer hit .309-3-13 in 13 games.
  11. Kiermaier's spectacular catch highlights Rays' win over Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier lives for these moments, when a baseball is soaring over the fence but he can use every bit of his athleticism, time his jump perfectly then commit the kind of larceny befitting his Outlaw nickname.

    Kiermaier did exactly that to the first batter in the first inning of Monday's 6-3 win over the fading Orioles, robbing Manny Machado with a spectacular leap that will be seen on plenty of highlight shows as what he now considers to be his best catch....

    Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier leaps high to rob the Orioles’ Manny Machado of a home run in the first inning.
  12. Rays to call up six players from Triple-A Durham

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — The Rays are calling up six players from Triple-A Durham today as rosters can be expanded beyond the standard 25.

    INF/OF Richie Shaffer, OF Mikie Mahtook and C Luke Maile will provide depth and options in the lineup, while LHP Matt Moore is expected to join the rotation, potentially this weekend in New York.

    The Rays are also adding two arms to the bullpen in bringing up LHP C.J. Riefenhauser and RHP Kirby Yates. Other players may be added later this week or after the Sept. 7 end of the Durham season, with hot LHP prospect Blake Snell among the possibilities....

    Richie Shaffer, who homered twice in eight games with the Rays earlier this season, is returning to the majors from Triple-A Durham.
  13. 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: LH Drew Smyly (1-2, 3.42)

    ORIOLES: RH Chris Tillman (9-9, 4.58)

    On Smyly: Took a step back Thursday in third start since coming off DL, allowing eight hits and four runs without getting through fifth. Is 2-0-1, 1.00 in six games (three starts, all in 2014) vs. O's....

    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)
  14. For starters: Rays at Orioles, on Archer Day


    UPDATE, 6:25: Cash said the Rays are expecting 4-5 call-ups on Tuesday, with plans being finalized and players being notified tonight. ... Nava is 7-for-16 with a HR vs. Chen but not in lineup. Cash said he didn't want Loney to be out 2 straight days, and liked other options betters - Butler, Guyer, Beckham. ...  Cash, Foley and several players met for about 45 mins with MLB execs Joe Torre and Peter Woodfork to discuss replay, strike zones and other topics. Torre has been meeting with every team....

    All-Star ace Chris Archer making the start tonight for the Rays.
  15. Rays' Kiermaier excels despite injured thumb

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — For a guy taking a less-is-more approach with his swing due to a sprained right thumb, CF Kevin Kiermaier is sure hitting the ball well — and hard.

    Kiermaier's sixth-inning go-ahead homer in the Rays' 3-2 win over the Royals on Sunday was his second in two games, clocking at 110 mph off the bat, per MLB's StatCast. His homer against the Royals on Saturday was measured at 111 mph, matching Steven Souza Jr. for the hardest hit by a Ray all season....

    Kevin Kiermaier, celebrating his go-ahead home run with Rene Rivera, is batting .367 in 19 games since he sprained his right thumb.