SEATTLE -- Robert Dyer, a decorated combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, has been selected by fans to represent the Mariners in the MLB and People Magazine's "Tribute for Heroes" initiative that will be part of the All-Star festivities next week in New York.
Dyer is an active-duty Marine Corps aviation officer from the Seattle area and currently stationed at the U.S. Naval Academy. He'll be joined by 29 other winners representing each Major League club and will be honored during pregame ceremonies Tuesday at Citi Field as well as during various activities leading up to the game.
The 36-year-old Seattle native was an academic and athletic standout at Kennedy High School in Burien, Wash., where he was an all-conference football lineman and also ran track and participated in the All Northwest Jazz Band before graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2000.
Fans nationwide cast their votes at TributeForHeroes.com to select the 30 winners from a pool of 90 finalists.
In addition to being in the Marines, Dyer is also an entrepreneur. He and his fellow Special Ops Marines came up with the idea for a nutrition product called RuckPack that offers vitamins and energy without caffeine. The company they founded hires veterans and active duty military and channels profits back to military charities. RuckPack has donated more than $15,000 to organizations such as the Navy SEAL Foundation and Wounded Warriors.
The "Tribute For Heroes" campaign supports Welcome Back Veterans (welcomebackveterans.org, powered by MLB.com), an initiative of Major League Baseball and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, which addresses the needs of veterans after they return from service. Major League Baseball has committed more than $23 million for grants to hospitals and clinics that provide post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) treatment to veterans and their families.
Zduriencik not aggressively pursuing trades
SEATTLE -- Three weeks prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, general manager Jack Zduriencik says he's not actively pursuing deals yet despite his team being 10 games under .500 and 10 1/2 games back in the American League Wild Card race.
The Mariners potentially have several interesting trade chips, with left-handed reliever Oliver Perez, outfielders Raul Ibanez, Michael Morse, Jason Bay and Franklin Gutierrez, designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales and shortstop Brendan Ryan -- all veteran players who'll be free agents at the end of this season.
Seattle has gotten younger as the season has progressed, with three rookies -- second baseman Nick Franklin, shortstop Brad Miller and catcher Mike Zunino -- all taking over starting roles in the past month. But Zduriencik doesn't sound ready to disband a club that he doesn't think ever hit full stride after injuries to Gutierrez and Morse and disappointing starts from several others has the team at 40-50 even after a recent uptick with the youthful additions.
"In all fairness, I don't think I'm going to be an aggressor," Zduriencik said. "I'm not going to go out there and start shopping our players. I don't think that's the right thing to do. We have three weeks before the trading deadline. Our goal is to put a healthy club on the field.
"You have to entertain calls when people call -- and they are calling. You have to listen to what they have to say and you ultimately have to do what's best for the organization. But we've been through a lot in the early part of this year, between struggles and injuries and setbacks. We've liked what's happened this last week, but who knows?
"I don't have a crystal ball and I can't predict one way or the other what is going to happen. But I'll do my job, as I'm supposed to do. And if something makes sense, then you're certainly going to listen."
Ibanez and Morales are having strong seasons offensively and have provided needed middle-of-the-order production. Perez has been outstanding after reinventing himself as a left-handed relief specialist the past two years, while Bay has provided some help as well as another former Mets castoff in the outfield.
Morse got off to a hot start, but he has dealt with a broken finger and now a strained quadriceps that has him on the 15-day disabled list, though he's expected back shortly. Gutierrez is also on the disabled list with a hamstring issue being the latest in his long list of health problems, while Ryan lost his starting shortstop role to Miller after struggling at the plate for a second straight year.
Last year, Zduriencik was fairly active in the July trade market, dealing right fielder Ichiro Suzuki to the Yankees on July 23 and reliever Brandon League to the Dodgers and reliever Steve Delabar to the Blue Jays on July 30 in deals that brought four Minor League prospects and outfielder Eric Thames in return.
Pryor faces three batters in simulated inning
SEATTLE -- Right-handed reliever Stephen Pryor, sidelined since mid-April with a torn muscle behind his throwing shoulder, threw a simulated inning against hitters Wednesday afternoon at Safeco Field as he continued working toward a midseason return.
Pryor, who is on the 60-day disabled list with a torn latissimus dorsi muscle, faced Michael Morse, Franklin Gutierrez and Dustin Ackley while throwing 25 pitches.
Manager Eric Wedge said the session went well and Pryor will throw another simulated outing on Saturday.
Pryor didn't allow a run in 7 1/3 innings in his first seven appearances this season before going on the disabled list.
Morse (strained quad) and Gutierrez (strained hamstring) are both on the 15-day disabled list themselves, but they aren't ready to go out on Minor League rehab outings yet and will remain with the team and likely hit against Pryor again Saturday.
• The Mariners have not yet announced their starter for Thursday's series finale against the Red Sox, as they will wait until after Wednesday's game to make a roster move to clear a spot on the 25-man roster. Jeremy Bonderman was originally slated for Thursday, but he was designated for assignment on Monday.
Wedge said the promotion will come from Triple-A Tacoma and all signs point toward right-hander Erasmo Ramirez getting the call after pitching seven games following his recovery from an elbow issue that cropped up in Spring Training.
• When Brad Miller went 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs on Tuesday, he became the 12th rookie in Mariners history to record three hits and four RBIs in the same game.