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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. Remember that famous Fred McGriff TV commercial? He's back, in a parody


    If you've ever seen Fred McGriff's TV commerical for Tom Emanski's Defensive Drills video it will always be fresh in your mind, with the deadpan delivery and famously ill-fitting cap.

    Now the former Ray and Tampa native, with help from ESPN's Kenny Mayne, is back in a bit of a parody as a commercial for Chassis men's grooming products - powder, cream and gel - designed, per the company press release, to handle sweat, odor, and chafing "down there."...

    Fred McGriff in his new commercial for Chassis, a men's grooming line, that looks a lot like his old one.
  2. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

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

    Tickets: $20-300; available at Tropicana Field box office,, team Tampa store; surcharge of up to $5 within five hours of game

    Promotion: $7.11 upper-level seats with coupon from 7-11 stores

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

    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)
  3. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip


    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Souza left Wednesday's game after an awkward first-inning slide left him in pain and with what the team said was a strained hip. X-rays in Oakland were negative, but the Rays said he needed further testing today in St. Petersburg. The concern was elevated because Souza had September surgery on the same hip.

    With the good results from the MRI, the Rays say Souza - among the team's most productive players with a .271 average, 20 HRs, 60 RBIs and an .883 OPS - is considered day to day.

    Souza posted a similarly positive update on his Twitter account:...

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.
  4. RHP Alex Cobb feeling safer as Rays make playoff push

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Opening a late July homestand with a legitimate run for a playoff berth in sight makes Friday's start a big one for veteran RHP Alex Cobb.

    But were the Rays not playing so well, and Cobb not such a big part of their success, the free-agent-to-be may well have been looking at this week as significant in a different way — his farewell performance in anticipation of being traded by the July 31 deadline....

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing in the fourth inning of the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Fla. on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.
  5. Rays morning after: Steven Souza Jr.'s status is a major concern


    The Rays will know more about the status of RF Steven Souza Jr. later today after reviewing results of a scheduled MRI and exam of the left hip he strained in Wednesday's game on an awkward slide into second.

    "We're actually pretty optimistic that we avoided a major injury,'' Cash said.

    Exacerbating their concern is that Souza underwent surgery on that hip in September and spent the off-season working to recover and rehab....

    Steven Souza Jr. strained his left hip in Wednesday's game on an awkward slide into second.
  6. 2008 playoff thoughts in bloom for Rays; Souza injury not expected serious in loss to A's

    The Heater

    OAKLAND, Calif. — Before the 7-2 loss to the A's and Steven Souza Jr.'s hip injury, or at least scare, Wednesday started with good vibes in the Rays' clubhouse.

    That was the carryover from the stunning comeback win the night before — down a run, two outs in the ninth with nothing doing — stirring some thoughts of deja vu to the improbable run that carried the 2008 Rays to the World Series....

    Rays catcher Wilson Ramos is just late with the tag as the A’s Jaycob Brugman scores on a sacrifice fly during a four-run fifth.
  7. Marc Topkin's takeaways on Wednesday's Rays-A's game

    The Heater

    Jake Faria wasn't going straight to Cooperstown at 500-0, so a day like Wednesday was going to happen, when he made too many mistakes. The challenge now is how he responds. Incidental casualty: His first loss in nine starts since getting engaged.

    There seemed to be legitimate optimism that Steven Souza Jr.'s hip injury won't lead to any major missed time. The Rays better hope so. Without the attention others are getting, Souza's career-best performance has been a huge part of the team's success thus far....

  8. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. injured, questions 'muddy' field conditions in Oakland

    The Heater

    OAKLAND, Calif. — There hasn't been any significant rain for weeks in northern California, but Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. blamed a curiously "extremely muddy" infield for the left hip strain he sustained Wednesday sliding into second that he hopes is more scary than serious.

    "I don't know how it got real muddy out there, but it was not okay," he said. "I've never actually slid into a major-league base like that and stuck and felt like I was going deeper in the ground."...

    Steven Souza Jr. slides awkwardly into second as he’s tagged out by the A’s Marcus Semien. “I don’t know how it got real muddy out there, but it was not okay,” Souza says of the field conditions.
  9. Rays off Thursday; up next: vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Today: Off

    Up next: vs. Rangers, 7:10 Friday, Tropicana Field

    Probable pitchers: Rays, RH Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.59); Rangers, RH Yu Darvish (6-8, 3.45)

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM

    Tickets: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    On deck

    Saturday: vs. Rangers, 7:10. Rays, RH Chris Archer (7-5, 3.91); Rangers, RH Andrew Cashner (4-8, 3.58)...

  10. Rays fall to A's; Souza leaves game with hip injury

    The Heater

    OAKLAND, Calif — The Rays failed to convert another sweep Wednesday, but the 7-2 loss to the A's might have yielded a more significant loss as outfielder Steven Souza Jr. left the game with a left hip strain that will require further evaluation.

    Souza, who has 20 homers in a thus far strong season, was injured on an awkward slide into second in the first inning, needing some assistance as he limped off the field. The Rays said X-rays were negative, but it will require an MRI exam today to allay concerns since the rightfielder had surgery on that hip in September and spent much of the offseason recovering and rehabbing....

    Tampa Bay Rays' Steven Souza Jr., right, is tagged out by Oakland Athletics' Marcus Semien in the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, July 19, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. Souza left the game with injury after this play. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) OAS102
  11. Steven Souza Jr. leaves Rays game due to left hip strain


    Rays OF Steven Souza left today's game after a first-inning slide into second caused a left hip strain.

    X-rays were negative and Souza will be further evaluated when the Rays return home.

    He had surgery on that hip last September.

  12. For starters: Rays at A's, coming off a rally, looking for a sweep with a new look


    UPDATE, 2:27: Tuesday's win was the Rays fifth when trailing after eight innings, most in the AL. Last year, they were 0-83 when trailing after eight. ... Adeiny Hechavarria's single that tied the score was the Rays fourth game-tying hit this season with two outs in the ninth. Before the season, per Rays research, their last one before this season came in June 2012, by Brooks Conrad in Philadelphia.

  13. Rays morning after: Blake Snell remains resolute he can figure things out


    The Rays had so much to be excited about Tuesday, down to their last out as they rallied in a true team effort to a 4-3 win over the A's that pushed them to a season-high seven games over .500 at 51-44.

    "Huge,'' said outfielder Steven Souza Jr. "The relentlessness of different guys. I've said it before, but different heroes every night. It's exciting to see those type of things. And that's what championship teams do, they win those type of games.''...

    Blake Snell worked only four innings, and needed 85 pitches to get there.
  14. Rays Kevin Cash ejected for objecting to Steven Souza Jr. strikeout


    Rays manager Kevin Cash was ejected from Tuesday's game in the fifth inning for objecting to a called third strike on Steven Souza Jr,

    When Cash first came out of the dugout it seemed he was trying to keep Souza from ejected for expressing his opinion to home plate umpire Bill Welke.

    But then Cash voiced his own displeasure to Welke and got tossed.

    It was the third time this season Cash had been ejected and seventh in 2 1/2 seasons as manager.

    It was the second straight night a Ray was tossed as Tim Beckham was ejected Monday for continuing to complain to ump Lance Barrett about a strike three call as he took the field for the next inning....

  15. After Blake Snell fails again, Rays rally for dramatic 4-3 win over A's (w/video)

    The Heater

    OAKLAND, Calif. — Blake Snell made another mess on the mound Tuesday, but his Rays mates cleaned it up by rallying late for a dramatic 4-3 win over the A's.

    Down to their final out, the Rays rallied against A's closer Santiago Casilla, starting with a single by Wilson Ramos. Pinch-runner Mallex Smith went to second on a wild pitch, then swiped third. After Brad Miller walked, Adeiny Hechavarria delivered a single to tie it. Shane Peterson followed with a single scoring Miller with the go-ahead run....

    Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell works against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, July 18, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) OAS104