Saunders hits leadoff on Ackley's night off

Saunders hits leadoff on Ackley's night off

Saunders hits leadoff on Ackley's night off
SEATTLE -- With Dustin Ackley getting a day off Friday, Mariners manager Eric Wedge put center fielder Michael Saunders into the leadoff spot for the first time in his Major League career.

Saunders had never hit higher than fifth for the Mariners until Wedge moved him up to No. 2 in the order last Wednesday in Cleveland. After five games in that spot, he got his debut in the leadoff position against the Angels on Friday.

"I've hit everywhere in the lineup now except third and fourth," Saunders said. "I'm just happy to get an opportunity to play every day. I don't care where I hit in the lineup."

Saunders, batting .224 on the season, has hit .200 (4-for-20) with a double and triple and .273 on-base percentage in his five games in the No. 2 spot with the team going 3-2 in those games.

"It's just a natural progression for me," Wedge said. "He's done a decent job in the two-hole. I like the way he fights through at-bats and we're just trying to stay as consistent as we can, relatively speaking of course."

That means keeping Ichiro Suzuki in the No. 3 spot and Kyle Seager batting cleanup, though Wedge dropped rookie catcher Jesus Montero to seventh on Friday for the first time. Montero has hit primarily in the fourth and fifth spots up to now.

"There nothing anything crazy with that," Wedge said. "It's more of a product of our lineup and trying to get better balance, we're so left-handed heavy. Until we figure out what type of Major League players we have, you can't really establish roles in regard to where they're going to be in the lineup until they play more and you figure out exactly what you have."