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Saunders comes out swinging in live BP


PEORIA, Ariz. -- After having pitchers throw strictly in bullpen sessions while hitters took batting practice against easy-tossing coaches the first five days of camp, the Mariners began live batting practice for the first time Monday.

As usual on the first day of live hitting, most batters just tracked the ball and rarely swung as they worked to see pitches and get their timing down. But a few players, including outfielder Michael Saunders, jumped right in and took some healthy hacks from the get-go.

Saunders said the condensed early schedule this year -- with Cactus League games already beginning Friday due to the impending World Baseball Classic -- has him on fast forward.

"I just heard today we're not doing any intrasquads since we're starting games earlier," Saunders said. "This is something I definitely need to take seriously to get the timing back as quick as possible. When you see live pitchers, you really know you're in Spring Training again. It was fun today."

As for being one of the few players swinging away?

"Everyone has their own routine," he said. "Today I tried to get as many swings off as I could. Anything around the zone, I try to swing. That's just my approach. I'm trying to figure out my own timing and the only way I'm able to do that is to swing it. I know a lot of other guys just like to take and see pitches, but that's just kind of me.

"For the first day, I actually felt pretty good. I put a couple balls in fair territory, so I'll take that as wins."

Saunders came to camp last year vowing to be more aggressive and carried that over through a breakout season that now has him firmly in a starting role. Monday's approach reaffirmed that mentality will continue in 2013.

"Be aggressive, right from the chute," he said. "Nothing has changed."

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