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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. Rays overcome more bad fortune to rally past Astros (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — With Xavier Cedeno on the disabled list, the Rays began Saturday as the only team in the majors without a lefty reliever.

    They sent out a starter, Blake Snell, who abandoned his windup to pitch exclusively out of the stretch in simplifying his delivery yet pitched himself out of the game by walking five.

    They watched their bullpen get even more shorthanded when Tommy Hunter hobbled off the field in the sixth with a calf strain....

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout after the top of the eighth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, April 22, 2017.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Astros game

    The Heater

    Bullpen depth is really being tested as RHP Tommy Hunter hobbled off with right calf tightness in the sixth. The staff is already missing Brad Boxberger, Xavier Cedeno, Shawn Tolleson and prospect Jaime Schultz due to injury. Could Ryne Stanek be next man up? LHP Blake Snell better keep searching for something to become more effective and efficient. Saturday he ditched his windup to pitch exclusively out of the stretch, but simplifying didn't work as he walked five and lasted only one batter into the sixth, with 48 balls in 87 pitches. It was admirable and selfless of Kevin Kiermaier to try to play Saturday despite still battling the illness that forced him out Friday, but he wasn't of much help, striking out his first three times on three pitches each before leaving in the sixth....

  3. Rays Tales: Brad Boxberger tops list of most significant injuries

    The Heater

    The late Friday move to place struggling LHP Xavier Cedeno on the disabled list gave the Rays a share of the major-league lead in a category they want no part of, with 10 players shelved due to injury.

    As with the Dodgers and Rangers, who also started Saturday with double-digit DLs, not all of the injured Rays are creating major voids. C Wilson Ramos (knee) was signed knowing he would miss at least the first couple of months, RHP Kevin Gadea (elbow) was a Rule 5 pick they were going to send back, RHP Nathan Eovaldi is basically on a 2018 futures deal while he recovers from Tommy John surgery....

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Xavier Cedeno #31 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Rays put LHP Xavier Cedeno on DL, call up RHP Ryan Garton


    The Rays already beleaguered bullpen took another hit Friday with news that LHP Xavier Cedeno was placed on the 10-day DL with forearm tightness, though manager Kevin Cash said they don't believe it to be serious.

    RHP Ryan Garton was called up from Triple-A, meaning the Rays won't have any lefties among the seven members of their bullpen.  RHP Danny Farquhar is likely to be used against lefties because of the success of his changeup.

    Cedeno has been largely ineffective this season, but had insisted he was healthy and it was just a matter of regaining command of his pitches.

    But today's news proved otherwise, as the Rays now will wait to see how long he is out....

  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Astros game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb seemed to find his old friend, throwing his changeup more effectively at times — but not all the time — than in his first three starts, and 23 times total Friday, which is an encouraging sign. Picking off the Astros' Jose Altuve twice at first also helped. What started well defensively, with dazzling back-to-back plays by SS Tim Beckham and CF Kevin Kiermaier, turned into a mess as the Rays failed to make several plays at key moments, the biggest by 3B Evan Longoria allowing the decisive run in the seventh. Example 3,094 of how the little things can hurt came in the fourth, when C Derek Norris failed to catch a Carlos Beltran foul pop for the third out, and not only did Beltran single, but so did the next three Astros, leading to two runs and a 3-3 tie....

  6. Rays Kevin Kiermaier a hit on MLB Network "Play Ball" show


    Rays Gold Glove CF Kevin Kiermaier shows off many of his talents - including his, well, not-quite- rapping skills - during an appearance on MLB Network's Play Ball show, which airs 10 a.m. Saturday

    The weekly show features an MLB star providing advice to kids on playing the game, recalling their path to the majors and providing tips. Kiermaier is interviewed by MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds. the brother of agent Larry Reynolds, and Kiermaier's comfort is obvious in the interview, which was done at the University of Tampa....

  7. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Thursday's Rays-Tigers game

    The Heater

    RHP Erasmo Ramirez seems, with a $3.215 million salary, to be an expensive spare part, but he shows his worth when he can step in like he did Thursday with five strong innings. He still might have more value as a starter to another team in a trade.

    CF Kevin Kiermaier will never admit feeling any pressure to start fast after signing a $53.5 million extension. But after just one extra-base hit in his first 14 games and 0-for-13 and 1-for-20 stretches, he looks locked in 10-for-his-last-20, and his first homer Thursday....

  8. Sweep of Tigers? Over .500? Hmm, this is getting interesting for Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sticking with our theme of the week, the Rays had some hard knocks — see what we did there? — of their own Thursday afternoon, pounding out an 8-1 victory to complete an impressive three-game sweep of the supposedly fierce Tigers.

    The drama-free win left them 9-8 as they completed the first one-tenth of their schedule and left us assessing what we've seen to this point:...

    Erasmo Ramirez, normally a reliever, starts Thursday due to an injury and gets the win with an impressive outing.
  9. Tigers' Brad Ausmus says OF misplay due to loud fan in small Trop crowd


    Tigers manager Brad Ausmus reiterated this morning that a misplay in the outfield during Wednesday's game, where a ball dropped between CF JaCoby Jones, 2B Ian Kinsler and RF Tyler Collins was due to a fan in the stands at the Trop.

    Ausmus said the fan yelled, "I got it,' which led to Kinsler and the outfielders backing off on the third inning ball hit by Brad Miller that dropped in for a single.

    "The acoustics helped ... and the fact that there were not a huge number of people sitting in stands,'' Ausmus said.

    Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with that, such as like when Alex Rodriguez did so during a game in Toronto.

    "Never heard of a fan doing it,'' Ausmus said. "I'm not blaming the fan, he's within his rights. ... We have to make the adjustment.''

    But he did make it clear he felt the rather, um, intimate setting at the Trop, with an announced crowd of 12,281, contributed.

    "Most of the time when you have a decent size crowd it’s all kind of white noise, all the noise kind of mixes together and nothing really stands out,’’ Ausmus said.

    Obviously his acknowledgment that a fan influenced play may lead to more fans trying to do to....

    A double by the Rays' Corey Dickerson drops in the middle of the Detroit Tigers outfield during the first inning Wednesday at Tropicana Field.
  10. For starters: Rays vs. Tigers in matinee finale with Longoria at DH


    UPDATE, 12:19: Here is the Tigers lineup:
    Kinsler 2b
    Collins rf
    Cabrera dh
    Castellanos 3b
    Avila 1b
    McCann C
    Romine lf
    Jones cf
    Dixon ss
    Norris p

    UPDATE, 12:08: Ump Larry Vanover is not working today's #Rays-#Tigers game due to personal matter. Joe West is coming in to replace him, but may not make it by first pitch. If not, game will start with three umps. Either way, Angel Marquez will have plate and be crew chief....

    Evan Longoria will be at DH for the second time in the past week.
  11. Rays morning alert: Some interesting notes from an interesting night


    An hour after the game ended, and I'm still trying to sort through everything that happened, as the Rays scored a wild 8-7 win on a confusing final play, and the result not official until the umps huddled for a few moments afterward.

    In short, they won when two runs scored as Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias stumbled crossing second to complete what should have been a game-ending double play....

    Pitcher Austin Pruitt, left, celebrates the Rays' walkoff win with first baseman Logan Morrison, right.
  12. Tigers shortstop trips, Rays rally for walkoff win (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays won Wednesday's game in wild and thrilling fashion, scoring the tying and deciding runs in the 8-7 victory as Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias tripped going across second base in what should have been a game-ending double play and threw the ball away.

    That was after looking like the Rays were going to lose it in shocking fashion, with two-time Gold Glove centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier missing a line drive that allowed three runs to score....

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) scores on the two run single by third baseman Evan Longoria (3) in the fifth inning of the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, April 19, 2017.
  13. Marc Topkin's takeaways on Wednesday's Rays-Tigers game

    The Heater

    3B Evan Longoria made a very smart veteran move in the sixth, letting JaCoby Jones' popped-up bunt drop and then throwing to second to start a somewhat messy but still effective 5-6-4 double play, diluting, for the moment, the Tigers' threat.

    The Rays enjoyed dome-field advantage in the first as Corey Dickerson's fly ball dropped between Tigers OFs JaCoby Jones and Tyler Collins, then Kevin Kiermaier's bunt rolled up the third-base line and curled fair. And why wouldn't they play ex-Ray Mikie Mahtook?...

  14. Here's a look at Rays 3B Evan Longoria's new look


    When Evan Longoria showed up in spring training with a full beard, he said his wife, Jaime, really liked it, "And that's what it's all about."

    But, he added, then,  that he would "probably keep it until I suck for a couple weeks and then it'll be gone. It'll be an excuse why."

    Well, apparently a .200 average and nearly majors-most 22 strikeouts through 15 games was enough for him to try something different, as he showed up Wednesday having shaved it all but some neatly trimmed remnants.

    "It was my call,'' Longoria said. "You've got to so what you you've got to do.''

    Replied Jaime, via her @jaimeedmondson Twitter account: "he's still super hot but I'm gonna need to see that beard again," with a heart-adorned emoji.

    Manager Kevin Cash didn't seem too concerned either way: "Longo can hit with or without a beard. It really doesn't matter. He hits.''...

    The latest new look for Rays 3B Evan Longoria.
  15. Rays' Evan Longoria making $500,0000 donation for cool climbing exhibit at Great Explorations museum


    Evan Longoria's play on the field has left many lasting memories for Rays fans.

    Now the Rays star and wife Jaime are doing their part to add to the experience at a popular community attraction, donating $500,000 for contruction of a new 26-foot tall, aquatic-themed climbing exhibit at St. Petersburg's Great Explorations Children's Museum.

    The Longo's Cove project, according to a museum release, is "a three-dimensional structure that is part-jungle gym and part-work of art, designed by Spencer Luckey, from Luckey Climbers, LLC. Climbing from pad to pad, children will be immersed in an aquatic wonderland of Florida sea life, while learning to conquer new heights and navigate through the inclines and levels of the 26-foot-tall exhibit.''...

    Artist's rendering of the 26-foot tall Longo's Cove exhibit being built at the Great Explorations Children's Museum.