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Mariners place OF Saunders on 15-day DL

Mariners place OF Saunders on 15-day DL

SEATTLE -- Michael Saunders was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday with a sprained right shoulder after colliding with the outfield wall at Safeco Field in Wednesday's 8-3 loss to the Astros. But the Mariners right fielder said things could have been worse and he expects to be back soon.

The Mariners selected veteran outfielder Endy Chavez from Triple-A Tacoma before Thursday's game with the Rangers to take Saunders' place. Right-handed pitcher D.J. Mitchell was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Chavez.

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"When I hit the wall and fell over, everything kind of went numb," Saunders said of his first-inning catch of a drive by Jose Altuve. "My initial reaction, I thought I [broke] my collarbone. I definitely thought something was wrong. However, out of a bad situation, it was the best-case scenario.

"We'll have to wait for the inflammation to go down, and as soon as it does, we'll get to work on it. I'll bust my butt to get back in there. It's not a serious injury, so that's encouraging. But it certainly is going to be a couple days."

Manager Eric Wedge was a little more cautious, saying there was no question Saunders needed to be put on the disabled list.

"It's going to be a couple weeks, at least," Wedge said. "Trust me, he did not want to go on the DL. He's got that hockey mentality. But we've got to do what's best for him and the ballclub."

Franklin Gutierrez will continue to get occasional days off in center field even in Saunders' absence, with Chavez filling in as needed. Wedge said he was leaning toward using Gutierrez as the leadoff man against both left- and right-handers when he is in the lineup.

Chavez, 35, is an 11-year veteran and career .269 hitter who played for Seattle in 2009 before suffering a serious knee injury. He's a capable center fielder, but the Mariners will miss Saunders' presence both at the top of the order and in the outfield.

"The toughest part of any injury is not being able to be on the field and help the club," Saunders said. "But I'll throw the pom-poms on and be a good cheerleader for a while. And I'll work hard to get back on that field as soon as possible."

As for the play where he got hurt?

"If I could do it all over again, I'd do the exact same thing," Saunders said. "As an outfielder, I'm out there to make the catch. I'm not pulling up because of the wall. I knew I could catch it.

"At the last second, I kind of reached out. I guess I did put myself in harm's way, but if I'm going to go down it's going to be because I play aggressively and that's going to be how I go about my career. I'm not going to shy away from the wall. If I can make the play, I'll do my best to make it."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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