Proud Papa Saunders on cloud nine, in left field

Proud Papa Saunders on cloud nine, in left field

ANAHEIM -- Michael Saunders was back with the Mariners on Thursday, exchanging happy hugs and handshakes with teammates after the birth of his daughter Monday in Colorado.

Saunders' wife, Jessica, delivered their first child, Aria, on Monday night after he'd flown home following Sunday night's game in Seattle.

"It was unbelievable," Saunders said. "No experience in baseball will ever duplicate what I just went through. It was extremely tough to leave, but I know I have a job to do here and luckily it did come later in the season so it'll only be a week before I get to see her again."

Saunders was immediately inserted back in left field by manager Eric Wedge for Thursday's series finale against the Angels.

Saunders is looking to finish his breakthrough season strong. He's hit .313 over his last 23 games, raising his season average to .251 with 17 home runs, 51 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. But in seven days, he'll be happy to return to Colorado to spend more time with his new addition.

"You meet somebody for the first time and it's head over heels in love," he said.