Saunders misses fifth consecutive start

Saunders misses fifth consecutive start

MINNEAPOLIS -- Outfielder Michael Saunders wasn't in the Mariners lineup for a fifth straight game on Wednesday as he continues working through a slight strain in his right groin muscle.

Franklin Gutierrez also was held out Wednesday to ease his legs back into things after coming off the disabled list Monday. Thus manager Eric Wedge had Chone Figgins penciled in as the starting center fielder for the second time in the past five games.

Saunders injured his groin when colliding with right fielder Eric Thames on the final play of Friday's 9-8 loss at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. He worked out with trainer Rick Griffin prior to Wednesday night's game with the Twins, but the club is being cautious.

"The biggest fear, especially in the outfield, you can't really control it, you just have to react," Wedge said. "And with his leg, if he breaks and clips it, he'll be done for the year. And that's the last thing I want to have happen. I want to make sure we have him healthy for the last month."

Wedge said Gutierrez should definitely be back in the lineup on Thursday afternoon's series finale with the Twins, while Saunders "is really close."

Both players were available to pinch-hit on Wednesday if needed.