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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

Email: mbaker@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MBakerTBTimes

  1. Andrei Vasilevskiy reassigned to Syracuse


    The Lightning announced that it reassigned goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to Syracuse on Wednesday, a day after he made his third career start in a 4-3 win over the Penguins....

  2. Brandon Gomes to Triple-A Durham



    Right-hander Brandon Gomes accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Durham, the Rays announced Tuesday evening.

    The reliever was designated for assignment on Friday to clear room on the 40-man roster for the 11-player, three-team trade that sent Wil Myers to San Diego.

    Gomes appeared in 29 games for the Rays last season, posting a 2-2 record and a 3.71 ERA. He also played in 27 games for Durham....

  3. Tyler Johnson's hat trick key as Lightning finally beats Penguins

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The Lightning bailed itself out of its offensive rut Tuesday night thanks to a speedy forward still recovering from the flu.

    Tyler Johnson scored his second career hat trick to give the Lightning a 4-3 win over the Penguins in front of a sold-out crowd of 19,204 at Amalie Arena.

    "Happy holidays, right?" Johnson said.

    The three-day Christmas break will certainly be happier thanks to Johnson and his line, which was responsible for all four goals to help the Lightning (21-11-4) earn its third win in the past nine games and snap a 10-game losing streak to the Penguins....

    Center Tyler Johnson, left, joins his teammates in celebrating his hat trick after his goal in the second period. His line had four goals.
  4. Penguins a few players short against Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning coach Jon Cooper didn't feel too bad about facing a shorthanded Penguins team Tuesday night.

    With three more players being tested for the mumps and Blake Comeau out after injuring himself Monday, Pittsburgh's total of injured/sick players stood at 12 Tuesday. Forward Dominik Uher became the sixth Penguin to make his NHL debut this month alone when he was recalled from the minors before Tuesday's game....

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper looks on from the bench with his team against the Philadelphia Flyers during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (10/30/31).
  5. Ben Bishop and Jason Garrison out vs Pittsburgh Penguins


    TAMPA – The Lightning will be without goalie Ben Bishop and defenseman Jason Garrison tonight because of injuries....

  6. Lightning seeks to snap 10-game Penguin hex

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — The Lightning doesn't seem interested in a history lesson as it prepares to host the Penguins tonight.

    Tampa Bay has lost its past 10 games to Pittsburgh, dating to November 2011. Pittsburgh has scored at least four regulation goals in eight of those games, including the Lightning's 4-2 road loss last week.

    "That's the only game that I really care about," forward Brian Boyle said....

    Lightning center Brian Boyle goes flying after a hit from Penguins defenseman Simon Despres in the teams’ meeting Dec. 15, which Pittsburgh won 4-2.
  7. Lightning-Penguins preview

    Lightning Strikes


    Lightning vs. Penguins

    When/where: 7:30, Amalie Arena

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Key stats: The Lightning is coming off of a five-game road trip that featured four losses. … Pittsburgh is third in the league in scoring (3.1 goals per game) and third in goals against (2.2). The Penguins entered Monday on a three-game winning streak that began with last week's 4-2 win over the Lightning. … Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury has stopped 74 of 75 shots in his last two games. … Pittsburgh continues to deal with concerns over the mumps, and three players are scheduled to be tested for the illness. … Lightning rookie Jonathan Drouin has two assists and a goal over the last four games....

  8. Both sides say Jameis Winston hearing was tough on them


    A day after Florida State star quarterback Jameis Winston was cleared of four university conduct code violations related to sexual assault allegations, the conversation shifted.

    Instead of discussing whether the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner will remain on the field in the Rose Bowl against Oregon, the aftermath centered on how difficult the experience has been on Winston and the woman who accused him of rape....

    Jameis Winston was cleared Sunday of breaking FSU conduct policy.
  9. Timeline of Jameis Winston investigation


    Here's a timeline of what has happened since news broke in November 2013 that Florida State star quarterback Jameis Winston was a suspect in a sexual assault. Information compiled through police accounts, statements from attorneys, the State Attorney's Office and media reports from the Associated Press, ESPN and the Tallahassee Democrat:

    DEC. 7, 2012

    A woman is offered a shot of alcohol by an unknown person at a Tallahassee bar before leaving in a cab, according to the Tallahassee Police Department. She claims to have been assaulted at an apartment between 1:30 and 2 a.m. FSU police get a call and refer the off-campus incident case to Tallahassee police, who arrive at 4:10 a.m. The woman is interviewed, and evidence is collected using a rape kit. The police begin investigating and ask an assistant state attorney to help obtain phone records....

    Jameis Winston has been cleared of sexual assault accusations and possible violations of Florida State's code of conduct, a retired judge ruled Sunday. [Getty Images]
  10. FSU clears quarterback Jameis Winston of code of conduct violations


    Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was cleared of four university conduct violations Sunday after a retired judge determined that 2-year-old sexual assault allegations amounted to a convoluted he-said, she-said case.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Major Harding wrote that Winston and his accuser provided contradictory stories of their December 2012 sexual encounter. Neither story was "substantially stronger" than the other...

    Jameis Winston was cleared in the 2012 sexual encounter.
  11. Week 16 NFL picks



    Seahawks at Cardinals, 8:15, Ch. 8 | Seahawks by 7½, 36½

    Arizona needs a win to clinch the NFC West and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. To do so, the Cardinals will need a solid performance from their revolving door at quarterback. Ryan Lindley is expected to make his first start in two years today, although the Cardinals said they could sprinkle rookie Logan Thomas into the game plan. Even if they're enough to get Arizona past Seattle and one of the league's top defenses, it's hard to see them carrying the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. Matt Baker's pick: Seahawks, 17-14...

  12. NFC South limps toward season's end


    Today's Falcons-Saints game certainly has some of the intensity worthy of a game that could decide who wins the NFC South.

    Saints safety Keenan Lewis went so far as to tell reporters, "We're definitely going to give them their funeral."

    That might be a fitting end, given the way the rest of the league has treated the NFC South this season.

    New Orleans (6-8) eliminates Atlanta (5-9) from the playoff picture with a victory. If Carolina (5-8-1) loses, too, the Saints win the division....

    Saints QB Drew Brees
  13. Scouting NFC South




    As bad as the Falcons' defense has been, CB Desmond Trufant (right) has had a solid year in the secondary. He ranks in the top 10 in the league with 14 passes defensed, which is enough to make him a Pro Bowl player, according to the advanced metrics site Pro Football Focus.

    Unfortunately for Trufant, he has done so on a struggling defense that faces Drew Brees and the Saints this week. Trufant's Falcons are last in the league in passing yards allowed (4,095), sacks (16) and yards per pass (8.3)....

    GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 08:  Desmond Trufant #21 of the Atlanta Falcons and  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers talk after the Packers defeated the Falcons 43 to 37 at Lambeau Field on December 8, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) 507848163
  14. Green Bay to pack 'em in at Bucs home game


    TAMPA — When the Bucs talked before the season about reclaiming homefield advantage at Raymond James Stadium, games like Sunday's weren't what they had in mind.

    "You like when the home team does something well to hear cheers and not boos," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said.

    But a large, noisy Packers contingent is expected among the sold-out crowd at the Bucs' home game Sunday....

    Packers fans, like these for a 2008 game against the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium, show up in force for road contests.