Sweeping Then Seattle

After sweeping a three-game series in Kansas City for the first time since 2008 this weekend, the Indians (4-4) have an off day in Seattle as they prepare to take on the Mariners (6-5) Tuesday night at Safeco Field. In the grind of 162 (not to mention spring training or the postseason), off days become valuable commodities that provide players, coaches and staff members with an opportunity to recharge their mental and physical batteries – on certain occasions, we also have a chance to get out of the hotel and explore the local sights, sounds and cuisine of the road cities we visit. Today marks Cleveland’s third of five scheduled off days in April, which matches July (four-day All-Star break + one off day) for the most in any month this season – May (2), June (3), August (2) and September (3) each have three-or-fewer. On last night’s flight from the “City of Fountains” to the “Emerald City” (KC –> Seattle), relievers Joe Smith and Dan Wheeler offered some insight into how they like to get the most out of their off days on a given road trip.

WHAT IS YOUR USUAL OFF-DAY ROAD PROGRAM?

SMITH: “Usually just go where the wind blows me.  I try to get out and enjoy what the city is known for.  [Last season] In San Francisco we walked thru Alcatraz and the Fisherman’s Wharf and in Minnesota we went to the Mall of America.  I would do Alcatraz again, that was great.“

WHEELER: “I try to sleep in as long as possible and get a good meal that is unique to the city.  You can eat at chains anytime you want. If you are in Chicago, you go to a “Gibson’s” or “The Tavern” type place or in Seattle we go to the Metropolitan Grille.  I’m a big movie guy so I like to go to movies as well on the off days.  Real relaxed program.”

YOU NEVER HAVE A PLAN GOING IN?

SMITH: “For this particular trip, I don’t know Seattle that well and you never know what kind of weather you are going to have in April. I hear they have some cool boat tours of the [Puget] Sound.  I would love to do something like that but if it is raining, probably not in the cards. Probably shop if the weather is bad.”

WHEELER: “Not usually.  Maybe do something unique to the city. I went to the CN Tower once in Toronto, so I may go to the Space Needle in Seattle.”

WHO HAS THE BETTER OFF-DAY CITIES, THE AL OR NL?

SMITH: “I would say NL because you have Miami in the mix. One time myself, my dad and Aaron Sele rented a boat and went deep sea fishing on an off day. You also have Denver, we would go fly fishing for trout on an off day there.  But the AL has Seattle and Boston.  LA, Chicago and New York are all the same so those are a wash.  I’m gonna say NL because I have gotten to do more stuff outdoors.”

WHEELER: “My two favorite road cities are in the AL- Chicago and Seattle.   Chicago you can go either way whatever league you are in, but Seattle is just a beautiful city with a lot to do.”

IS THERE ONE ROAD OFF DAY IN YOUR CAREER THAT STICKS OUT?

SMITH: “The deep sea fishing charter with my dad sticks out and a bunch of us with Mets used to go fly fishing outside of Denver.  Alcatraz last year in San Francisco was really neat.”

WHEELER: “There was one, a few years ago, when I was with the Rays. It seemed like whenever we played the Marlins we would have an off day.  The Rays put us up at a great hotel right on the beach and my family got to come down and we spent the entire day at the pool and the beach.   The family would always make that trip and those are good memories.  You don’t get many of those types of days during the season.  There isn’t a whole lot you can do on the road, you don’t have a car, no comforts of home, so the days you have with your family around, in a strange place, it is pretty special.”

WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE A ROAD OFF DAY IN AUGUST INSTEAD OF APRIL?

SMITH: “In August you can always use one. You take them when you can get them, but I would rather see them loaded up in July or August when you can really use one.”

WHEELER: “I think so, a lot of guys would. But that is baseball, in the summer time that’s when you play most of your games because that is when the weather is best and school is out.  There may be a day in August when you are begging for a break and here in April, with rainouts and off days, it seems like we only play every other day.  It seems like you can never get an off day or rain out in July or August when you’re really dragging, but that’s baseball and what we signed up for. You take the off days and enjoy them anytime that you can get one.”

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