Saunders to see significant action in final weeks

Saunders to see significant action in final weeks

Saunders to see significant action in final weeks
ANAHEIM -- While rookies Alex Liddi and Steve Delabar drew much of the attention with their first-time callups to the Mariners on Tuesday, outfielder Michael Saunders is the one newcomer who figures to see the most significant playing time in the final three weeks of the season.

Saunders, who struggled through a tough first two months with the Mariners this year before being sent to Triple-A Tacoma, started in center field in his first game back on Tuesday.

He wasn't in manager Eric Wedge's lineup on Wednesday for the final game of the Angels series, but with Franklin Gutierrez out for the season with a strained oblique muscle and Casper Wells temporarily sidelined after taking a pitch off his elbow, Saunders will get some chances to show what he worked on over the past 10 weeks with the Rainiers.

"It's definitely good to be back," Saunders said after Tuesday's 2-1 victory over the Angels. "It's unfortunate what happened to Franklin. Wedge told me I'll be getting some playing time in center, and I'm grateful for that opportunity."

After batting just .168 with the Mariners in his initial stint, Saunders hit .288 with seven home runs and 38 RBIs in 64 games with Tacoma.

"I went down to Triple-A and pretty much had to revamp my whole approach, tinker with some mechanical issues and everything," he said. "Mainly I just gained some confidence and trust in my approach.

"I took some things I was working on with [Mariners hitting coach] Chris Chambliss up here and did some stuff with their hitting coach, Alonzo Powell, down there, and was really excited with the results. It was necessary to go down and do a few things. One of the biggest was just getting confidence in my new approach. I'm excited about it."

Saunders said he was rotating back and forth with Greg Halman in center and left field, with both players playing about 4-5 games before alternating back. He played center field in Tacoma's finale on Monday.

"It's not like I've been out for a while and just got thrown back in there," he said. "I'm excited about the opportunity, and hopefully I'll get a little playing time up here and can try to take advantage of it."

Wedge said he wants to see Saunders carry his new approach over into games now.

"I think he's been better," said Wedge. "I want to see him up here and watch him in batting practice and games when he does get a chance to play. I thought he did a nice job in the outfield last night and got a good jump on a stolen base he would have had; he also drew a walk. I want to see him a little more, but he'd been better down there."