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. Mason Foster, Dashon Goldson questionable for Saints


    TAMPA — MLB Mason Foster (shoulder) and S Dashon Goldson (ankle) remain question marks as the Bucs prepare for a prolific Saints offense.

    Foster, who has missed the last two games after dislocating his shoulder in the Rams loss, said he has seen much improvement in the shoulder but isn't sure yet what he'll be able to do in practice or whether a return Sunday is in play. Dane Fletcher has filled in for Foster....

  2. Austin Seferian-Jenkins said it doesn’t matter whether fans or analysts argue that the Steelers lost the game rather than the Bucs winning it.
  3. Matt Moore says early struggles doomed Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Matt Moore had a unique vantage point for the Rays' season.

    The 2013 All-Star was around the team much of the year while he did his rehab work after April's Tommy John elbow surgery. But Moore wasn't able to contribute, so he watched more like a scout or a coach than a teammate.

    Moore said he saw a team that struggled early and never fully recovered....

    Matt Moore, walking through the clubhouse with his goldendoodle Griffin, hopes to return by mid May next year.
  4. NFL Week 4 preview picks


    Matt Baker's picks


    Eagles at 49ers | 4:25, Ch. 13, 49ers by 5, 501/2

    Philadelphia is one of three unbeaten teams and will get a challenge from a San Francisco team still looking to click. The 49ers' run defense is sixth in the league, so it doesn't look like this will be the week Eagles RB LeSean McCoy gets back on track. But Philly hasn't needed him to dominate with Nick Foles leading the league in passing (978 yards). Don't be surprised if he lights up a mediocre San Francisco pass defense that gave up 244 yards and two touchdowns (with no interceptions) to Arizona backup Drew Stanton last week. The 49ers have enough firepower on offense to make it a shootout, but that shouldn't keep the Eagles from their seventh 4-0 start in club history. Matt's pick: Eagles, 35-28...

  5. Scouting the NFC South



    This is how well things are going for the 2-1 Falcons after destroying the Bucs: One focus of defensive backs meetings is toning down celebrations. "I just was told not to dive in the end zone," safety Kemal Ishmael told ESPN about the interception he returned 23 yards for a touchdown against the Bucs. "I watched it a million times. It was my first (interception). I was just happy for it. I was trying to do a little Madden thing, but it didn't work out. When you score on Madden, you can dive into the end zone and get all crazy high in the air."...

  6. NFL tweets of the week


    San Francisco receiver Stevie Johnson (@StevieJohnson13) tweeted he was drafting regular citizens for his "fantasy work team, so make sure to grab me some points today at your workplace." Among the clever responses:

    @AndrewKam: "I just messed up on a TPS report. My bad, man. -3 work points."

    @Pat_Egan: "went down with a nasty paper cut & my return to the office is doubtful"...

  7. NFL's key injuries



    QB Jake Locker, Titans: Locker is dealing with an injured wrist on his right (throwing) hand and missed practice Wednesday and Thursday while being limited Friday. His status is uncertain, and backup Charlie Whitehurst hasn't started a game since 2011.

    WR Eric Decker, Jets: After injuring his right hamstring in Monday's loss to Chicago, Decker improved throughout the week and is expected to play....

    NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21:  Football player Eric Decker attends NY Jets Wide Receiver David Nelson Kicks Off The NYC Launch of i'mME on July 21, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for i'mME)
  8. Doug Martin said Thursday that his injured knee is 100 percent that he expects to play Sunday at Pittsburgh.
  9. Timeline of Jameis Winston investigation


    Here's a timeline of what has happened since news broke in November 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....

    Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston warms up before the National Championship game against Auburn in January.  [AP photo]
  10. Jameis Winston case: Attorneys dispute $7 million settlement talk (w/video)


    After weeks of relative silence, the saga surrounding sexual assault allegations against Florida State University star quarterback Jameis Winston exploded Wednesday with incendiary remarks, a scathing 13-page letter and a dispute over a potential seven-figure settlement with his accuser.

    The latest step in the months-long ordeal began when Winston's adviser, David Cornwell, told FSU in a letter that the reigning Heisman Trophy winner would cooperate with the school's Title IX investigation. Cornwell wrote that Winston answered questions from the school Jan. 24 and will meet with the school again as it determines whether he broke FSU's code of conduct in an off-campus sexual encounter in December 2012....

    Lawyer David Cornwell says that Winston’s accuser demanded
$7 million 
to settle.
  11. Bucs starter Josh McCown sees specialist; likely out vs. Steelers


    TAMPA — Bucs starting QB Josh McCown is expected to miss Sunday's game at Pittsburgh and could be out longer if surgery is required to repair a ligament in his right thumb.

    McCown was examined by a hand specialist Monday and will be re-evaluated in a week or two to determine if surgery is needed. While McCown, 35, could play if surgery is avoided, it could still be several weeks before he returns to the playing field....

    Josh McCown, right, has damage in his right (throwing) thumb and saw a specialist, but it’s not known if he’ll need surgery.
  12. Florida State Seminoles got their challenges but met them


    TALLAHASSEE — After rolling through the 2013 regular season with a dozen double-digit victories, No. 1 Florida State wanted to face some challenges in its quest to repeat as national champion.

    "That's one of the things we worked on and wanted to do was face adversity and overcome it," defensive tackle Eddie Goldman said.

    The Seminoles faced plenty — some self-inflicted, some not — during Saturday's 23-17 overtime win over Clemson....

    TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20:  Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles runs on the field to celebrate the overtime win against the Clemson Tigers at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 20, 2014 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) 504595393
  13. FSU survives, beats Clemson in overtime


    TALLAHASSEE — After relying on star quarterback Jameis Winston for most of an 18-game win streak, No. 1 Florida State showed Saturday night it can survive without him, too.

    With the suspended Winston watching from the sideline, quarterback Sean Maguire and the Seminoles made up for early struggles with big plays late.

    They rallied from their first deficit in almost a year to force overtime, where Karlos' Williams 12-yard touchdown run gave them a 23-17 victory over No. 22 Clemson at Doak Campbell Stadium....

    Deshaun Watson, right, celebrates his 2-yard touchdown run, which puts Clemson up 17-10, with Stanton Seckinger.
  14. Suspended Jameis Winston dresses up, sits down for FSU


    TALLAHASSEE — Even when suspended, Jameis Winston couldn't escape the spotlight of the college football world Saturday night.

    The pregame story centered on the Florida State quarterback, starting with the signs at ESPN's College GameDay and extending to his full-uniform entrance for pregame warmups.

    On Wednesday, FSU benched the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, who led it to the national title last season, for the first half of Saturday's prime-time game for what administrators deemed "offensive and vulgar" remarks he made on campus regarding a sexually explicit meme. ...

    New Florida State starting quarterback Sean Maguire, left, shakes hands with suspended quarterback Jameis Winston before the game against Clemson.
  15. Scouting the NFC South



    If history is any judge, New Orleans' 0-2 start isn't a good sign. It has missed the playoffs the past six times it began that poorly. New Orleans doesn't have to deal with Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, but it's without its top rusher, Mark Ingram (broken hand). Some of Ingram's carries will go to Khiry Robinson, a second-year back out of Division II West Texas A&M who has 283 yards and two touchdowns for his career. "He's a physical runner with really good balance," coach Sean Payton told of the undrafted free agent. "He'll be fired up for the opportunity, and he has already been a really big part of our plan."...