SEATTLE -- Thirty military veterans from Western Washington were introduced at Safeco Field prior to Monday's game, and Major Harold Wanamaker of the U.S. Air Force threw out the first pitch for the afternoon's contest with the Angels as part of the Mariners' Memorial Day ceremonies.
Wanamaker, who lives in Bothell, Wash., served in Europe in World War II as a bombardier on a B-24 Liberator bomber that flew missions out of Italy. He was held as a prisoner of war for nine months before his prison camp was liberated by General George S. Patton and the U.S. 14th Armored Division on April 29, 1945.
After throwing the first pitch to Mariners outfielder Cole Gillespie, Wanamaker was joined on the field by his wife of 71 years as the two were greeted by applause from the Safeco Field crowd.
During the mid-fourth inning break, Third Class U.S. Navy Petty Officer Arthur Barnes, also a World War II veteran, was honored with a special "Salute to Those Who Serve" tribute on MarinersVision. Barnes, who now lives in Bellingham, Wash., served on the battleship U.S.S. Tennessee off the coast of Japan in April 1945 when they came under a fierce attack from a squadron of suicide bombers. A direct hit on the bridge of the ship by one of the enemy aircraft left 22 U.S. servicemen killed or mortally wounded, and more than 100 injured.
A non-profit organization called Puget Sound Honor Flight, created to honor America's veterans for all their sacrifices, was at Safeco Field as well to raise awareness for its mission to help transport veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit and reflect at memorials built in their honor. The trip is free to the veterans and is made possible through individual donations and corporate support.
Both the Mariners and Angels joined in Major League Baseball's tribute by wearing special caps and jerseys featuring the U.S. Marine Corps "Desert Digital" camouflage pattern.
All net proceeds from the sales of the replica caps and jerseys will benefit the Welcome Back Veterans Fund, an MLB partner organization that provides grants to hospitals throughout the country that provide post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury treatment to veterans and their families.
McClendon bumps Zunino up in lineup
SEATTLE -- After hitting eighth or ninth in the Mariners batting order for the first two months of the season, young catcher Mike Zunino was moved up to the fifth spot for Monday's series opener with the Angels as manager Lloyd McClendon looked to spark his struggling offense.
McClendon has been hesitant to bat the 23-year-old higher in the lineup, given the heavy load he's already carrying as the Mariners starting catcher in his first full season in the Majors. But Zunino has hit .244 with six home runs and 18 RBIs coming into Monday's action, and Seattle is shy on right-handed hitting options.
"I'm still hesitant," McClendon said of the move. "But we have to do something to try to balance things out a little. I'm just trying to be proactive. … Just trying to shake things up and score some runs some kind of way. We'll put him into RBI situation and see if he can click for us."
McClendon has been impressed with the rapid development of the team's 2012 first-round Draft pick on both sides of the plate.
"I think he's been great," McClendon said. "To think how far he's come this fast and to handle a staff the way he's handled it, I think he's just been fantastic. I think he's real close to being an All-Star type of catcher. I don't think he's there yet, but if he continues to work, he's got a chance to be."
Jones' hitting streak snapped
SEATTLE -- Rookie center fielder James Jones saw his 14-game hitting streak snapped Sunday in a tough way as he laced a hard shot up the middle in his final at-bat in the ninth inning of a 4-1 loss to the Astros, only to see the ball ricochet off the foot of pitcher Dallas Keuchel right to Houston's first baseman.
Jones could only shake his head and smile on Monday after enduring his first hitless start since being promoted to the Majors on May 5 with his 0-for-4 day. The 25-year-old set a club record by posting at least one hit in his first 15 MLB starts, breaking the record of 10 set by Edgar Martinez in 1987.
Jones insisted all along that he wasn't worried about either of those streaks, but was just trying to help his team win. He echoed that again when looking back at the tough way his string ended.
"I was just hoping I'd get on base to start off a good inning," he said. "I hit it solid, it just didn't go our way. But he pitched a great game. You can't take that away from him."
The hit streak certainly helped Jones' comfort level in his initial weeks with the Mariners, as he's stepped right into an everyday role as the club's starting center fielder and leadoff man.
"It definitely gives me confidence," Jones said. "I feel like I belong here, if I can be productive like that. I just want to keep on keeping on, coming with that same intensity. That's all I can keep doing. I'm definitely happy. I know there'll be struggles and times when things don't go my way, but I'm just going along with it and trying to do my best."
Paxton held back with soreness after first rehab start
SEATTLE -- Mariners left-hander James Paxton was held out of any throwing on Monday after continuing to experience some soreness in his left shoulder following his first Minor League rehab start, but the youngster downplayed any lingering issue.
"I feel all right, just a little soreness still from upping the intensity a little bit," Paxton said Monday while icing his shoulder. "It'd been awhile since I'd been in a game, so I'm trying to just loosen it up right now."
Paxton said he won't throw an anticipated bullpen session, but instead will play catch on Tuesday. Manager Lloyd McClendon said there won't be any rushing the youngster as he returns from a strained lat muscle that has sidelined him since his second start on April 8 in Anaheim.
"We'll see how he feels and I'm not sure what the next step is," McClendon said. "But if there's any soreness at all, we'll be very cautious with it."
Paxton had built his arm strength back up with a lengthy throwing program, capped off with a pair of simulated games. But he said real game action is different after he threw 62 pitches Saturday for Triple-A Tacoma while allowing three runs (two earned) and four hits against El Paso.
"It felt good to get out there on the mound and face hitters again," he said. "It was a good step forward, and I'm just recovering from that right now. It's a little different getting out there and getting after it after being off that long."
Paxton is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA this season and 5-0 with a 1.75 ERA in six career starts after being called up last September.
• Logan Morrison went 2-for-5 and scored two runs at designated hitter in his third rehab game with Triple-A Tacoma on Sunday, raising his average to .273 (3-for-11). But McClendon said the outfielder/DH remains "a ways away" from being ready to rejoin the club.
• Rookie Dominic Leone's 1.33 ERA was the fifth best among all American League relievers going into Monday's games.