Saunders, Gutierrez may return to lineup vs. A's

Saunders, Gutierrez may return to lineup vs. A's

SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge was optimistic that outfielders Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders, both out with groin injuries, would return for Friday's series opener against the A's.

"We saw what we needed to see from Michael," Wedge said. "Now, it's just a matter of how 'Gut' shows up on Friday."

Saunders has been out of the lineup for about two weeks, save for four innings last Friday, when he aggravated the injury chasing a fly ball in the right-field corner. Prior to Wednesday's game, Saunders was doing agility drills and running the bases.

"[Trainer] Rick [Griffin] really pushed him, so good day, already talked to him," Wedge said of Saunders.

Saunders has played most of the season as the Mariners' starting center fielder and is hitting .245 with 14 home runs, 43 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. After enduring a tough stretch of 10 games where he hit .048 (2-for-42), Saunders has hit .357 (10-for-28) over his last eight games.

Gutierrez has only played in 21 games this year, as injuries have plagued his 2012 campaign. In his short time on the field this year, Gutierrez is hitting .278 with four doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs.