CHICAGO – And a very happy 4th of July from the beautiful Windy City. There aren't very many better cities – if any, in my opinion – to have a day off, so I guess the Mariners for once have something to thank the schedule makers for.
Roenis Elias, Friday's starting pitcher for the M's, had a throwing session in a Chicago park on Thursday. (Shannon Drayer photo)
Most of the guys took in the sights and enjoyed a good meal yesterday, with a good number of them flying in their spouses and families. One Mariner actually put in a little bit of work Thursday. At about 12:30 Roenis Elias and pitching coach Rick Waits headed out a to a park that Waits had scouted earlier in the day so Elias could get his normal day-before-a-start throwing session in. This isn't unusual. Earlier this season Waits threw with Chris Young in Central Park in New York on the off day. It shows you how committed both the coaches and players are.
I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the scene and it was an absolutely fantastic sight to see. If you follow me on Twitter (and you should @shannondrayer) then you have already seen this photo, but there was Elias in his Mariners-issued workout gear having a catch session in a city park where there were various youth groups playing soccer and participating in other activities. No one seemed to notice that there was a big leaguer on the edge of the field. After Elias was done throwing he and Waits had a quick chat and then Elias took a few laps around the track and his work was over.
So a bit of news today as Corey Hart has been activated from the DL and Cole Gillespie has been DFA'd to make room for him. The team has 10 days to trade, release or outright Gillespie, who also has the option to declare free agency once he has cleared waivers. The Mariners obviously would prefer to keep him in the organization but with Dustin Ackley showing signs of life – somewhat big signs – with the bat in Houston, they didn't really have another option.
One other move to talk about, Justin Smoak has been activated from the DL and optioned to Tacoma.
"It's tough but LoMo is playing well and provided a big lift for us," manager Lloyd McClendon said of the move.
Smoak has struggled at Triple-A, hitting just .204 with a .599 OPS in 13 games. He will have to get the bat going if he wants to see Seattle again this year, but according to McClendon the door is wide open.
"Smoaky will continue to get at-bats there and get sharp," he said. "At some point he will helping our club again. He just needs to work on his skills. He's a major league player. He just has to bide his time there, stay healthy, get his at-bats and swing the bat good."
So Smoak in Tacoma and Morrison and Hart in tonight's lineup.
Chairs from Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs, can be seen on Michigan Avenue in Chicago in honor of the stadium's 100th anniversary. (Shannon Drayer photo)
• McClendon is just giving shortstop Brad Miller a little break with a very tough lefty on the hill tonight. He should be back in the lineup tomorrow.
• About the picture above, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field there are painted Wrigley seats all up and down Michigan Avenue.
• James Paxton threw a 52-pitch bullpen, which included curveballs for the first time, and all went well. He is now scheduled to throw a two-inning sim game on Tuesday. I would expect that he would throw at least one more sim game before he is sent out on a rehab assignment, and don't even bother to ask whose place he takes on the roster when ready. In baseball you deal with those things when they happen. A lot could happen between now and then, whenever that is.
• Happy 4th!