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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. Despite 12-13 record, Rays show resilience during first four weeks

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The result obviously wasn't what the Rays wanted Saturday in a 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays, but there was some good in the circumstances, as Matt Andriese spared the worn-out bullpen by working seven innings and Steven Souza Jr.'s left hand was only bruised and not broken after being hit by a pitch.

    In a way, that was reflective of how their season, which is four weeks old today, has gone....

    Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria reacts after striking out in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto on Saturday April 29, 2017. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP) FJT114
  2. Rays Tales: Which ex-Ray does the team miss the most?

    The Heater

    When reviewing the lengthy list of players the Rays parted ways with from the tail end of last season to the start of this one, you'd think it would be one of the most accomplished names they are missing the most.

    Probably Logan Forsythe, whose smooth glove, powerful bat in the leadoff spot and scrappy style of play made him a valuable part of the lineup but not enough to say no when the Dodgers dangled touted pitching prospect Jose De Leon in a straight-up deal....

    Enny Romero, now a key member of the Nationals bullpen, frustrated the Rays with his control problems but could be a significant asset now in a bullpen without a left-hander.
  3. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. relieved that hand injury isn't serious


    TORONTO — Laying prone across the dirt surrounding home plate Saturday, RF Steven Souza Jr., a man of great faith, could only pray that as much as the left hand just hit by Joe Biagini's 95 mph fastball hurt, it was not broken.

    A few minutes later, he got the affirmation he was seeking, at least from an initial X-ray taken at the Rogers Centre, which showed only a bruise. ...

    Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. is waiting to see how his left hand feels today before deciding if he’ll be able to return to the starting lineup. X-rays indicated only a bruise, not a fracture, after he was hit on the hand by a pitch.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    RHP Matt Andriese made a couple of mistakes that factored heavily in the loss, but he gave the Rays exactly what they needed with seven innings as they were able to get vital rest for the entire bullpen save for RHP Ryan Garton.

    Manager Kevin Cash got aggressive early, using top lefty pinch-hitters Brad Miller and Logan Morrison in the sixth, saying he felt with two on in a 2-1 game, even after Tim Beckham failed to get down a bunt, it would be their best shot....

  5. Rays at Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. Sunday, Toronto


    Today: at Blue Jays

    1:07, Rogers Centre, Toronto

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 760-AM (Spanish)

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

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Chris Archer (2-1, 3.94)

    Jays: RH Aaron Sanchez (0-1, 4.38)

    On Archer: Allowed three homers in five-batter span to take loss Monday vs. O's. Likes pitching in Rogers Centre atmosphere, 3-2, 3.23 in nine starts. Overall is 6-4, 3.17 in 20 games vs. Jays....

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Pitcher Chris Archer #22 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)
  6. Red-hot Steven Souza Jr. injured in Rays' loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The Rays lost not only Saturday's game to the Blue Jays 4-1 but also one of their top all-around players as Steven Souza Jr. had to leave after being hit by a pitch on his left hand.

    Matt Andriese gave the Rays the kind of extended start they needed by working seven innings, but he was done in by a couple of mistakes, specifically an RBI double by Russell Martin and a two-run homer by Justin Smoak....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Andriese walks off the mound after giving up a 2-run home run to Toronto Blue Jays' Justin Smoak in the sixth inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Saturday April 29, 2017. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP) FJT117
  7. Rays Steven Souza Jr. leaves game after being hit on hand by pitch


    UPDATE, 4:06: The Rays got what sounds like good news, with word that Souza has a left hand contusion and initial X-rays were negative. He will be evaluated further over the next 24-48 hours.

    DEVELOPING: Rays OF Steven Souza Jr. left today's game after being hit on the left hand by a pitch.

    Souza was motionless on the ground for several minutes, then got up and, after being checked by assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker, left the game.

    Souza has been one of the Rays top all-around players through the first month of the season, and last week was the AL Player of the Week....

  8. For starters: Andriese on mound for matinee vs. Jays


    UPDATE, 11:29: The Rays had some concern about RHP Jake Odorizzi, who was hit on the left leg during his Wednesday sim game (whcih was to show that his injured left hamstring was fine), but Cash said he threw his bullpen session with no issues on Friday and is set to return as planned on Monday. "I don't envision him not making his start,'' he said. ...Though Dickerson is in the lineup today vs. a lefty that doesn't sound like it will become a regular thing as Brad Miller is still likely to get more of those opportunities. ... RHP Chase Whitley was excited to get his first big-league save last night.

    Here is the Jays lineup:
    Pillar cf
    Carrera lf
    Bautista rf
    Morales dh
    Smoak 1b
    Martin c
    Coghlan 3b
    Barney 2b
    Goins ss
    Liriano p


  9. Marc Topkin's takeaways on Friday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    Good or bad, RF Steven Souza Jr. tends to make things interesting. Just in the first four innings Friday, he made two diving catches, ran into the wall to haul in a ball and misplayed a ball off his glove.

    Rookie RHP Austin Pruitt has made his rough six-outing start to the season, and his big-league career, look like a long time ago with the way he is pitching now. Friday he worked three impressive innings, showing poise , in keeping the Rays close so they could rally....

  10. Rays at Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. Saturday, Toronto

    The Heater

    Today: at Blue Jays

    1:07, Rogers Centre, Toronto

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

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

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Matt Andriese (1-0, 3.86)

    Jays: LH Francisco Liriano (1-2, 4.58)

    On deck

    Sunday: at Jays, 1:07. Rays, RH Chris Archer (2-1, 3.94); Jays, RH Marco Estrada (0-1, 2.70)...

    DUNEDIN, FL - FEBRUARY 21:  Francisco Liriano #45 of the Toronto Blue Jays  poses for a portait during a MLB photo day at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on February 21, 2017 in Dunedin, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
  11. Four homers in final two innings rally Rays past Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Blake Snell gave the Rays another too-short start Friday and more reasons to wonder if he really is ready to be a key part of their rotation.

    But his teammates again showed the ability to finish strong, turning the bad beginning into a happy ending by rallying for a 7-4 win over the struggling Blue Jays.

    The Rays evened their record at 12-12 by flexing their muscles, flipping a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 advantage by hitting three home runs in the eighth inning — by Corey Dickerson (his sixth), Evan Longoria (fourth), and Logan Morrison (fifth)....

    Blake Snell gives up only two runs against the Blue Jays but throws 96 pitches in five innings, 43 of them balls.
  12. Rays journal: Blue Jays call up Luke Maile just in time to face Rays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — C Luke Maile was planning on seeing some old friends this weekend.

    Dropped April 2 by the Rays, claimed by the Blue Jays and sent to Triple-A Buffalo, he was looking forward to catching up during a weekend series in Durham.

    Then he got word late Thursday that he was being called up by the Jays. And then he realized when he got to Toronto, he would be playing against the Rays....

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Daniel Robertson (29) in the dugout after scoring on the triple by right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) in the second inning of the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday, April 20, 2017.
  13. Video preview: Rays at Blue Jays


    With a day off to get over their tough walkoff walk loss in Baltimore on Wednesday, the Rays tonight open a weekend series against the struggling Blue Jays. Here is our video preview from the Rogers Centre, with first pitch tonight at 7:07:


    Evan Longoria scores as Russell Martin waits for the throw during a game between the Rays and Blue Jays earlier this month in St. Petersburg.
  14. For starters: Snell on the hill as Rays face struggling Blue Jays


    UPDATE, 6:10: The Rays had a slight scare during BP when rookie INF Daniel Robertson was hit in the head by a thrown ball. Robertson was fielding a grounder when he was hit, but the bill of his cap deflected the ball from a direct hit. He was checked by Rays staff and said afterward he was fine, more startled than anything.

    UPDATE, 6:05: LHP Xavier Cedeno (forearm tightness) had a PRP/stem cell injection today by Dr, James Andrews which means he will have no activity for a month but could still make a return in th second half. ... OF Colby Rasmus is sick today but expected to stay with AA Montgomery for rehab games Saturday and Sunday, with the potential to rejoin the Rays Monday in Miami; though it may make more sense to wait for Wednesday, when they have the DH available. ... To complete the off-season trade of OF Mikie Mahtook to Detroit the Rays got RHP Drew Smith, a hard-throwing reliever who will join the advanced Class A Stone Crabs. ... Former Rays C Luke Maile was called up by the Jays and is in the lineup today, having caught Snell many times on their way up.

    Blue Jays lineup:
    Pillar cf
    Barney 3b
    Bautista rf
    Morales dh
    Smoak 1b
    Pearce lf
    Travis 2b
    Maile c
    Goins ss
    Stroman p...

    Blake Snell will start for the Rays, with plans to go back to the full windup delivery after working out of the stretch exclusively in his last start.
  15. Rays at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. Friday, Toronto

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Blue Jays

    7:07; Rogers Centre, Toronto

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

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

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: LH Blake Snell (0-2, 3.38)

    JAYS: RH Marcus Stroman (2-2, 3.10)

    On Snell: Catches a break as Jays are without righty sluggers Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki. Plans return to windup after working out of stretch last start. Is 1-2, 4.40 in three starts vs. Jays....

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Blake Snell #4 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)