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Times staff,

If you have a news tip, please call our City Desk at 727-893-8215.

You can also call one of our county news bureaus directly:

Hernando County: 352-754-6101

Hillsborough County/Tampa: 813-226-3303

North Pinellas County: 727-445-4221

Pasco County: 727-869-6235

On the Web, you can also go to sptimes.com/connect/ for details on other ways to contact us.

E-mail: local@tampabay.com

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  1. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. defends risky leap at wall

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — The answer to whether RF Steven Souza Jr. would miss any time after bruising a bone in his right elbow Monday jumping for a ball at the wall came early Tuesday.

    "When I woke up and it wasn't extremely unbearable, I texted (manager Kevin) Cash and said I was ready to go," Souza said. "Obviously banging your elbow on a bar, it's not going to feel great the next day, but I feel good enough."...

    BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 24: Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts after injuring his right arm in the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 24, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images) 700010515
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    Manager Kevin Cash started lefty swinging 1B Logan Morrison against Orioles LHP Wade Miley saying he wanted to get him going, but it also seemed like a move to have better defense than putting Rickie Weeks — who DH'd — at first. It may be time to wonder if C Derek Norris is close to playing himself out of the starting job. He has one hit in a 19 at-bat stretch, with an overall .155 average and .362 OPS, and has seven steals against him in seven tries....

  3. Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Baltimore

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Orioles

    7:05, Camden Yards, Baltimore

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

    Rays info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Alex Cobb (1-2, 4.88)

    ORIOLES: RH Dylan Bundy (3-1, 1.37)

    On Cobb: Has allowed at least four runs in three straight starts; has worked into seventh twice in his four. Feels changeup is improving. Is 4-1, 1.84 in eight starts vs. Orioles, but last was in September 2014....

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 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. With new director in place, Florida Botanical Gardens hopes to rise to 'the next level'

    News

    LARGO — The Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation has hired its first-ever executive director, Vernon Bryant, a former horticulture manager for Pinellas County Parks who was part of the team that helped create the Botanical Gardens almost 20 years ago.

    Foundation board president Terry Berube said Bryant, who holds a bachelor's degree in botany from Eastern Illinois University and a master's in horticulture from Iowa State, can "take the Botanical Gardens to the next level.''...

    Vernon Bryant helped create the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo 20 years ago.
  5. Pinellas Commission gives preliminary nod to tax money for Blue Jays

    Ml

    CLEARWATER — After a confusing debate, the Pinellas County Commission on Tuesday voted to help Dunedin move forward with an $81 million upgrade of the Toronto Blue Jays spring training complex.

    The vote came amid a broader discussion about a pot of money from the Tourist Development Council bed tax, a 6 percent tax allocated to marketing and capital projects.

    Commissioners received a 58-page report from Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, the marketing agency for Pinellas County, outlining requests to spend the money from seven projects, including the pitch to fund $46.5 million of the stadium upgrade....

    The county gave preliminary approval to spend $46.5 million in bed-tax money to help upgrade the Toronto Blue Jays spring training facility.
  6. Sports in brief

    Sports

    NFL

    AP, SAINTS AGREE TO DEAL

    Free agent Adrian Peterson and the Saints have agreed on a two-year contract.

    The deal means Peterson, a 10-year veteran who had seven 1,000-yard seasons with Minnesota and once eclipsed 2,000, could become a backup running back on an offense that tends to pass more than run.

    Still, Saints coach Sean Payton said Tuesday that he envisions a productive role for Peterson, 32, who is coming back from a 2016 meniscal tear that required season-ending knee surgery after three games. ...

  7. Caleb Brantley's attorney: Ex-UF player refuses to settle with complainant (w/video)

    College

    The attorneys for former Florida defensive lineman and NFL draft prospect Caleb Brantley said the attorneys representing the complainant have tried to settle the battery case.

    "I was approached by lawyers representing the alleged victim, both yesterday and today," Brantley's attorney, Huntley Johnson, said Tuesday evening. "They indicated to me they were meeting with the State Attorney's Office tomorrow and that they want to settle the case today. I called Mr. Brantley and communicated what they said to me. He told me that under no circumstances were we to offer them money or give them any money. He said no."...

    Defensive lineman Caleb Brantley (57) rests after running through a drill during Florida's NFL Pro Day in Gainesville, Fla., Tuesday, March 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
  8. High school scoreboard for April 24

    Preps

    Monday's scoreboard

    Softball

    District 9: Boca Ciega 14, Largo 1

    District 5: St. Petersburg Catholic 17, Shorecrest 15

    Baseball

    St. Petersburg Cath. 17, Canterbury 5

  9. Firefighters have contained 'suspicious' fires in Pasco County; State Road 54 reopened

    Fire

    TRINITY — Both directions of State Road 54 were re-opened Tuesday night after firefighters contained "suspicious" fires that burn 32 acres, according to Pasco County officials.

    No homes are threatened and no evacuations were ordered. Officials said the westbound lanes of S.R. 54 between Old County Road 54 and Mitchell Ranch Road were reopened around 8 p.m. and then announced that eastbound lanes were reopened about 45 minutes later....

  10. IBM hosts subdued shareholders meeting in Tampa

    Corporate

    TAMPA — This tale of two annual meetings held simultaneously in Florida Tuesday by a pair of corporate giants couldn't have a more stark contrast.

    Protesters interrupted a lively Wells Fargo's shareholder meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach in which a community activist was removed.

    Meanwhile across the state, IBM shareholders held a largely sedate morning gathering at the Marriott Waterside Hotel in Tampa. ...

    The annual IBM stockholders meeting was held Tuesday at the Tampa Waterside Marriott.
[OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  11. Florida zookeeper in Tampa hospital after saving rhino from wildfire

    Bizarre News

    TAMPA — A Naples zookeeper who saved a rhinoceros from a 7,000-acre wildfire Friday is recovering at Tampa General Hospital after sustaining second-degree burns on 18 percent of his body, his doctors and fire officials said.

    Donovan Smith, co-owner of NGALA Wildlife Preserve on Inez Road, was listed in fair condition after surgery Tuesday afternoon, spirits buoyed by the rescues of a leopard, a Florida panther and Walter, the 8-year-old, 5,000-pound white rhinoceros he has raised from infancy. ...

    Zookeeper Donovan Smith was hospitalized with burns after trying to keep "Walter" his rhinoceros and two big cats safe Friday during what has become a 7,000 acre fire in the Naples area.  [Photo from GoFundMe]
  12. Police seek help identifying young woman found in north St. Petersburg

    Public Safety

    St. Petersburg police are asking for help identifying a young woman who was wandering north St. Petersburg "confused and lost."

    Police said the young woman was found at 11:26 a.m. Tuesday near the corner of 45th Avenue North and Third Street.

    She did not know her name or where she lived. She was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg for medical evaluation.

    The young woman was wearing a white tank top, a long black skirt and white slip-on canvas shoes. She has brown eyes, light brown hair, medium skin tone and a mole under her right eye. Another identifying feature is a small tattoo that looks like a stopwatch on the right side of her stomach. ...

    Police found this girl "confused and lost" near the corner of 42nd Avenue North and 3rd Street and are seeking help identifying her. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg Police Department]
  13. Afternoon update: Hillsborough superintendent to recommend new bell times; medical marijuana plan will lack public comment; Ivanka Trump is jeered in Berlin; how to make homemade Pop Tarts

    Here's what you may have missed, and what you need to know as you start winding down:

    HILLSBOROUGH SUPERINTENDENT TO RECOMMEND NEW START TIMES

    Hillsborough School District Superintendent Jeff Eakins will recommend new starting times at a special school board meeting today at 3:30 p.m., although the schedule will not take effect until August 2018. Follow our live blog for the latest developments from the meeting. Earlier today, the Hillsborough County School Board learned that the district, the nation's eighth-largest, spends $1.5 million annually to maintain the hardware and software for a student information system that relies on a computer language that was invented in 1959, unfamiliar to a lot of programmers educated in the current century....

    Hillsborough School District Superintendent Jeff Eakins will recommend new starting times at a special school board meeting today, although the schedule will not take effect until August 2018. [Times files (2015)]
  14. Early morning threatening tweets land Moon Lake man in jail

    Crime

    MOON LAKE — The man made bomb threats over Twitter, Pasco County deputies said, claiming he had placed explosives around local government buildings.

    And he stole a neighbor's Wi-Fi to do it, they said.

    Terrance Upham, 43, of the Moon Lake neighborhood near New Port Richey, sent explosive tweets in the early hours of Sunday morning.

    "A pipe bomb an other exploxives (sic) will detonate an placed in an around pasco government building," Upham tweeted from the handle @repit4u, deputies said....

    Terrance Upham, 43, of New Port Richey, is accused of using stolen wifi to send bomb threats over Twitter. [Photo courtesy of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
  15. NFL Draft: Where the Bucs could find a development quarterback

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The Bucs, quite blissfully for their fans, do not need to draft a starting quarterback this week.

    Appreciate that fact, as teams that don't have an answer at football's most crucial position scramble to try to find one. For all the drama involved in trading up or reaching for a quarterback at the top of a draft, the Bucs can be bystanders, knowing that each passer taken in the top 18 picks is another talented non-QB available to them at No. 19....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) at midfield after the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the New Orleans Saints 16 - 11.