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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. For starters, Rays at Red Sox, on trade day


    UPDATE, 5:49: Baseball ops president Matt Silverman said they looked at some possibilities of adding bats but there were "no glaring holes" in their lineup that they could fill at the deadline. ... He also acknowledged the "dynamics were odd" in trading Jepsen to a team they were chasing in the wild-card race but said that was the case in several of their conversations. ....  Several Rays said they were disappointed to see Jepsen go but they understood it was a business. .. Cash said they will use several relievers to fill his role, with Geltz and Gomes seemingly the most likely, and that he won't use the bullpen any differently, meaning McGee could still pitch in the 7th if matchups dictate and Boxberger in the 8th. ... Yates will also get some opportunities.

    Erasmo Ramirez will be on the mound for the Rays. [Jon Blacker/The Canadian Press via AP]
  2. Trade deadline update: Jepsen traded to Twins for 2 minor-league pitchers


    UPDATE, 4:01: There were no other deals for the Rays by the 4 p.m. deadline.

    UPDATE, 3:30: Jepsen said he was surprised to be dealt, and even more surprised to go to a team the Rays are competing with for a playoff spot:

    "You hear the rumors and stuff like that that your name is out there about being traded, but when it actually happens, it sinks in,'' Jepsen said.

    "In the off-season when I got traded (from the Angels to the Rays) it was a little easier because I had a couple months to get ready and head to spring training. This is during the season, I'm about to catch a flight and head to Minnesota.

    "It's fun and it's nice to be wanted, a team that's in it, in the hunt. And they're looking to fill in some pieces that I could hopefully help with and be in the playoffs at the end of the year.''...

    The Rays have enough depth in pitching to at least listen, and were said to be discussing starter RHP Nathan Karns and reliever RHP Kevin Jepsen, pictured, among others
  3. Karns, Jepsen are hot topics in Rays trade talks

    The Heater

    BOSTON — The Rays have several decisions to finalize today.

    Trade discussions are at the forefront, as after "lots of talks" over the past several days they are down to the final hours before today's 4 p.m. deadline for nonwaiver trades.

    There were indications Thursday they were in listening mode on several of their pitchers, including RH Nathan Karns, who seemed to be a popular topic of conversation based on his 6-5, 3.37 mark through 20 games in his rookie season....

    Rays reliever Kevin Jepsen seems a likely candidate to be involved in a deal, with the trade deadline this afternoon.
  4. Despite Archer's plea, don't expect big acquisitions from Rays

    The Heater


    The final hours leading to today's 4 p.m. deadline for nonwaiver trades might come down to a conflict of faith and hope.

    Top Rays officials say they have faith the current team is good enough to stay in the race for a playoff spot and are unlikely to make any major improvements, even as some of their competitors make significant acquisitions, headlined by the Blue Jays on Thursday landing David Price....

    "I'm speaking for our clubhouse when I say this, WE are hoping and confident that the areas of need will be addressed in the coming hours so that we can stay competitive not just in September but through the month of October as well," All-Star ace starter Chris Archer said. "Other teams have, and I hope that motivates not only the players to give it all they have but the management as well." [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  5. Ace Chris Archer "hoping" Rays make moves to improve team


       After seeing the AL East rival Blue Jays deal for All-Stars LHP David Price and SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rays ace RHP Chris Archer called on his bosses to improve their team.

       "It should be a very interesting two months of baseball in our league and division,'' Archer told the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday.

      "I'm speaking for our clubhouse when I say this, WE are hoping and confident that the areas of need will be addressed in the coming hours so that we can stay competitive not just in September but through the month of October as well....

  6. Rays-Red Sox Friday preview

    The Heater

    Rays at Red Sox

    When/where: 7:10 tonight, Fenway Park, Boston

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

    Probable pitchers

    rays: RH Erasmo Ramirez (8-4, 3.74)

    red sox: LH Eduardo Rodriguez (6-3, 4.26)

    On Ramirez: Worked a season-high 71/3 innings in last start vs. O's but allowed 5 runs, his most since May 24. Has faced 61 batters since last walk. Is 8-3, 2.41 over last 20 games (14 starts). Is 0-0, 6.39 in 4 starts vs. Sox....

  7. David Price is back in the AL East ... with Blue Jays


    The Rays are going to see more of David Price.

    So is the rest of the American League East.

    Price was traded Thursday from the the Tigers to the Blue Jays, one of the teams the Rays are competing with for a playoff spot.

    The Jays gave up several top prospects, including LHP Daniel Norris, to get Price, who is a free agent after this season. The other players going to Detroit are lefthanded pitchers Jairo Labourt and Matt Boyd....

    David Price reportedly was traded Thursday from the the Tigers to the Blue Jays.
  8. Rays say Kevin Kiermaier's dazzling catch is among his best (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier said he would have felt better about his dazzling running and leaping catch just before running into the centerfield wall had the Rays not ended up losing Wednesday.

    But the rest of his mates were plenty excited about his sixth-inning larceny of Detroit's James McCann, especially since at the time it preserved RHP Chris Archer's perfect game....

    Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier holds up the ball after he made a catch at the wall temporarily preserving Chris Archer's no-hitter during the Rays game against the Tigers at Tropicana Field Wednesday afternoon 7/29/2015.
  9. Despite Archer's bid for perfection Rays lose 2-1 to Tigers


    Rays ace Chris Archer was perfect into the seventh inning Wednesday, but a mistake by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera led to a frustrating 2-1 loss to the Tigers.
      Archer flirted with a perfect game by retiring the first 19 Tigers, but after he allowed an infield single with one out in the seventh an error by Cabrera on what should have been an inning-ending double play changed the narrative dramatically as a 1-0 Rays lead became a 2-1 deficit.
        The loss, before a camp day-boosted crowd of 28,057 at the Trop, kept the Rays from a three-game sweep of the Tigers and dropped then back under .500 at 51-52.
         Jose Iglesias was the first Tiger to reach against Archer one out into the seventh, hitting a slow bouncer to the left side and beating the throw from Cabrera. Official scorer Bill Mathews didn't hesitate in calling it a hit.
        The Rays should have been out of the inning when Yoenis Cespedes hit a grounder up the middle, but Cabrera booted it and couldn't even get the lead out. That put two runners on and though Archer retired always dangerous Victor Martinez on a fly to left, he gave up a ground ball single to J.D. Martinez that scored the tying run, and then another single to Nick Castellanos on a liner off Cabrera's glove that scored Cespedes and put the Tigers up 2-1.
      By retiring the first 19 Tigers, Archer made the longest perfect game bid in Rays franchise history. Matt Garza retired the first 18 Red Sox in an April 30, 2009 game. (Garza has also thrown the only no-hitter in Rays history, on July 26, 2010, vs. Detroit.)
      Archer, riding an especially nasty hard slider, did his part in striking out 10 of those 19, including five in row.
       But centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier lend a hand with a spectacular catch, running with his back to the field, then leaping and reaching across his body to corral James McCann's fly ball just before hitting the wall.
       Still Archer went from near perfection to a frustrating loss, allowing two unearned runs on the three hits while striking out 11 over seven innings, having thrown 101 pitches.
      Tigers starter Justin Verlander was equally impressive early on, retiring the first 14 Rays he faced, until Cabrera homered on an 0-1 pitch with two outs in the fifth. Verlander, with his girlfriend model/actor Kate Upton in the stands, worked eight innings, allowing just four hits and striking out 10 for his fur
       The Rays had a final shot to tie in the ninth when Evan Longoria was hit by a Joakim Soria pitch with two outs, but Tim Beckham struck out....

  10. Rays waste Archer gem in loss to Tigers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Archer's best delivery came after Wednesday's game.

    The only-human frustration of once again pitching spectacularly well with ridiculously low run support had to be only intensified by a twist that could best be described as cruel.

    Eight outs from a perfect game, and looking to both teams like he could get it, the Rays' All-Star ace instead ended up with an L in a 2-1 defeat to Detroit that was one of most damning of Tampa Bay's season....

    Model Kate Upton smiles after a fan got to take a selfie with her after the Rays game against the Tigers at Tropicana Field Wednesday afternoon 7/29/2015.
  11. For starters, Rays vs. Tigers, on Archer Day


    UPDATE, 11:06: Casali said the last few days have been wild and rewarding, the first time he's hit two homers in a game since high school. He also said the success if the result of a more aggressive approach he and other hitters have taken over the last couple weeks. .. Interesting note to Casali becoming the first rookie catcher in MLB history to have multiple homers in back to back games - he surpassed Kenji Johjima, who did it in back to back starts (with a game off in-between) for Seattle in 2006, and the other catcher on the team both times was Rene Rivera. ... Wilson, pride of Seminole High, started the season with the Rays then was designated for assignment on June 12....

  12. Curt Casali homers twice again as Rays pound Price, Tigers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The handwritten note was taped to Curt Casali's locker, waiting for him when he got back to the Rays clubhouse after Tuesday's game, starting with NICELY DONE. The text on his phone conveyed a similar message, Nice Job, though with a couple of angry-faced emojis tacked on.

    As thrilled as Casali was about hitting two more home runs, and about hitting them off good buddy and fellow Vanderbilt product David Price in the Rays' 10-2 win, he was even more touched that Price was willing to congratulate him for doing so....

    Getty Images
  13. Rays-Tigers preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Tigers

    When/where: 12:10 today; Tropicana Field

    Radio: 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tickets: $7-200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster,, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Chris Archer (9-7, 2.73)

    TIGERS: RH Justin Verlander (0-3, 6.62)...

    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)
  14. Rays trade outfielder David DeJesus to Angels

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rather than add a bat, the Rays on Tuesday traded one of their more productive offensive players — OF David DeJesus — to create flexibility in their lineup and save about $3 million.

    DeJesus, hitting .259 with five homers and 26 RBIs, was sent to the Angels for 20-year-old rookie league RHP Eduar Lopez.

    In acknowledging Lopez was a "mid-level prospect," the Rays said the bigger return was clearing more at-bats for DH John Jaso and space in the lineup for OF Desmond Jennings, who is expected back from the disabled list in mid August....

    David DeJesus is headed to Los Angeles — where his wife and son live nearby — as the Rays open at-bats for others and clear some salary.
  15. Rays trade DeJesus to Angels


    The Rays traded OF David DeJesus to the Angels for minor-league RHP Eduar Lopez.

    DeJesus said he was shocked to be traded but pleased to be going to the Angels, as his wife and son are living in the LA area. "It's a good problem,'' he said.

    Rays baseball ops president Matt Silverman said Lopez was a "mid-level prospect" and the deal was more about creating more at-bats for John Jaso and eventually Desmond Jennings, who is expected back in mid-August, and also "to save some money.''...

    The Rays traded outfielder David DeJesus to the Angels for minor-league pitcher Eduar Lopez.