Matt Baker, Times Staff Writer

Matt Baker

Matt Baker joined the Times as a sports reporter in 2011. In 2014, he started covering the Bucs, Rays and Lightning. He previously covered high school and college sports for the Tulsa World and minor league baseball for the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. His work has been honored by the Best American Sports Writing series and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is a Hoosier native and graduated from Northwestern University in 2008.

Phone: (727) 420-9087


Twitter: @MBakerTBTimes

  1. Derrick Brooks, left, said he wasn’t in a position to judge whether Tony Dungy was being treated fairly for his remarks on Michael Sam.
  2. Rays put Ryan Hanigan on disabled list

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — C Ryan Hanigan said the All-Star break gave his sore left side a little time to recover.

    But it apparently wasn't enough. The Rays placed Hanigan on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with an oblique strain. The move is retroactive to July 9.

    "It's tough," manager Joe Maddon said. "We just can't get him going."

    Hanigan also went on the 15-day DL in May with a right hamstring strain. Maddon said Hanigan told him during the series in Detroit this month how much better he was feeling; then his side began to bother him....

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan (24) in the eighth inning of the Tampa Bay Rays against the Toronto Blue Jays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.
  3. Ryan Hanigan placed on DL by Rays



  4. Rays: High praise for David Price; still in race?

    The Heater

    Today: Off

    Through Thursday: All-Star break

    Next game: Friday, at Twins, 8:10

    Probable pitchers:

    Rays: RH Alex Cobb (4-6, 4.14)

    twins: RH Kyle Gibson (8-7, 3.92)

    On deck

    Saturday: vs. Twins, 7:10. Rays — LH David Price (9-7, 3.23); Twins — RH Kevin Correia (5-11, 4.61)

    Sunday: vs. Twins, 1:40. Rays — RH Chris Archer (5-5, 3.41); Twins — RH Phil Hughes (9-5, 3.70)...

  5. Rays' Jeremy Hellickson to get extra work in minors

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Instead of relaxing during the All-Star break, RHP Jeremy Hellickson will get some extra work.

    The Rays optioned him to Double-A Montgomery before Sunday's game to create a roster opening for LHP Jake McGee, who was activated from the paternity list.

    Hellickson had elbow surgery in January and has made one major-league start this season, lasting 4⅓ innings Tuesday, so the club moved him to the minors to give him more time to get back into rhythm....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (58) throwing in the second inning of the Kansas City Royals at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, July 8, 2014.
  6. Rays 3, Blue Jays 0: David Price ends season's first half on a high note

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — For a Rays team looking for any sign that it can make a second-half push, Sunday's 3-0 win over Toronto gave a glimpse of what might be possible after the All-Star break.

    The offense was opportunistic off former Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey.

    The defense was solid, turning two double plays for the first time in almost a month.

    And starter David Price was dominant again in his latest and possibly last start at Tropicana Field as a Ray. His eight shutout innings led the Rays (44-53) to the series win and the 11th victory in their past 15 games....

    Yunel Escobar slides into home and is called out, but a replay overturns the call and the Rays take a 2-0 lead.
  7. Rays leave for All-Star break with 3-0 win over Blue Jays


    ST. PETERSBURG – After battling a disappointing first half of the year, the Rays will have a long layoff to think about Sunday’s win....

  8. For starters, Rays vs. Jays


    UPDATE, 11:53: The Rays optioned RHP Jeremy Hellickson to Double-A Montgomery before the game to give him more work during the All-Star break. Hellickson is scheduled to start tomorrow for the Biscuits.

    Hellickson is still working his way back from January elbow surgery. He threw 4 1/3 innings Tuesday in his season debut, giving up six hits and one run.

    Hellickson said he "wasn't opposed" to the move. Because of the All-Star break and two off days next week, the Rays don't need their fifth starter until July 29. Hellickson said the plan is for him to make one start for Montgomery and another start for the Class A Stone Crabs before rejoining the Rays during their next homestand, which begins July 25....

  9. Jake Odorizzi answers call for Rays on short notice

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — When RHP Jake Odorizzi heard David Price was ill, he started preparing as if he'd be moved up a day in the Rays' rotation.

    So when Odorizzi took the mound Saturday in Price's place, he looked like his usual self, allowing fewer than four runs for the team-best seventh consecutive start.

    "He's been pretty unflappable since he's gone on this kind of a nice roll," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's been pretty much able to take things in stride."...

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) pitches during the MLB game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Saturday, July 12, 2014.
  10. Rays: Rocker Joan Jett plays, pitches and announces


    Rays vs. Blue Jays

    When/where: 1:40 today; Tropicana Field

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

    Tickets: $18-$275, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster,, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Promotion: Yunel Escobar basketball set

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: LH David Price (8-7, 3.48)...

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Pitcher David Price #14 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)
  11. Rays beat Blue Jays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's game-deciding move was complicated, even for manager Joe Maddon.

    The Rays' bench was short, with Desmond Jennings and Ryan Hanigan available only in emergencies, and the score was tied in the sixth.

    That was when Maddon pinch-hit one of his team's hottest sluggers for a rookie who hadn't played in more than a week.

    "You have to make some close calls in different moments," Maddon said....

    Tampa Bay Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier follows through on an RBI single in front of Toronto Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro during the seventh inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 12, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson) FLMC114
  12. For starters, Rays vs. Jays


    UPDATE, 2:05: LHP David Price is expected to start tomorrow. He left Tropicana Field last night because of an illness, and Jake Odorizzi will start in his place today.

    "I think he's doing fine," manager Joe Maddon said. "I anticipate at this point that he will (start), but I'm still not 100 percent."

    CF Desmond Jennings' left knee is swollen after hitt himself with a foul ball Friday night. He's not in the lineup but might be available off the bench today....

  13. Rays rally, only to fall against Blue Jays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — For the second game in a row, the Rays had a chance to pull out a key victory late. And for the second game in a row, the bullpen let them down.

    Former closer Grant Balfour surrendered three runs in the ninth inning of Friday's 8-5 loss to the Blue Jays, sending the Rays (42-53) back to last place in the AL East.

    "I just didn't make the pitches," Balfour said. "That's pretty much just awful on my part."...

    Rays second baseman Sean Rodriguez connects for a three-run homer to tie the score at 5 in the seventh inning.
  14. Rays: Serving up early Thanksmas, Dan Johnson back at Trop

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Blue Jays

    When/where: 4:10 today; Tropicana Field

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

    Tickets: $18-$275, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster,, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

    Promotion: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts postgame concert

    Probable pitchers...

    DUNEDIN, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Pitcher Drew Hutchison #36 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a photo during photo day at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on February 18, 2013 in Dunedin, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
  15. David Price ill, misses scheduled start

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP David Price will miss today's start after becoming ill and leaving Tropicana Field on Friday. RHP Jake Odorizzi will start in his place, the team announced after the loss to Toronto.

    The Rays hope Price could take Odorizzi's place as Sunday's starter. They'll know more today.

    Price is 14-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 18 career starts against Toronto....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) heads to the dugout before warming up to start the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.