Saunders' groin strain steadily improving

Saunders' groin strain steadily improving

MINNEAPOLIS -- Michael Saunders was not in the Mariners' lineup for the fourth straight game Tuesday as he continues recovering from a slight groin muscle strain. The outfielder said he might be available to come off the bench to hit against the Twins.

"Every day it's getting stronger," Saunders said. "I'm ready to pinch-hit, if needed. The goal is to make sure I play in September and not rush back right away, as much as I'd like to. It's only a matter of time now."

Saunders hurt his groin in a collision with Eric Thames on Friday night. The two crashed together on the final play of a 9-8 loss to the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field while tracking a deep line drive in the right-center field gap by Paul Konerko.

Saunders, 25, is hitting .246 with 14 home runs and 43 RBIs. He's filled in well most of the season in center field, but will split time between right and left field now that Franklin Gutierrez is back with the club.

Saunders took batting practice Tuesday and did some work with trainer Rick Griffin.

"We're giving him another day, but he's most definitely making progress," said manager Eric Wedge. "Hopefully he'll be available if we need him, but it would be limited. I would think [he'll be ready by Wednesday] or the next day at the latest, if he keeps making the progress he's been making."