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Wedge rests center fielder Saunders on Saturday

Wedge rests center fielder Saunders on Saturday

CLEVELAND -- After starting 15 straight games since returning from his sprained shoulder, Michael Saunders was given the day off Saturday by Mariners manager Eric Wedge. And the break appears much needed as Saunders has struggled at the plate this road trip.

The 26-year-old center fielder has gone 2-for-19 in the last four games, dropping his average from .286 to .247, and looking different at the plate than earlier in the season.

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"It's time," Wedge said. "The guy brings so much energy to our lineup at the top of the order. It's the real deal. So this is a good day off for him.

"I don't think [he's pressing]. He's just a little worn down. You play him that much and that's what it is. Coming off not playing for a while and then coming back and playing the way he's played, I threw him right up there in the middle of it, and he's done great. But this is a good day off for him."

Saunders missed 17 games from April 11-28 with his sprained shoulder after crashing into the right-field wall at Safeco. With Franklin Gutierrez on the disabled list now, Saunders has played center field every day since his return, and the Mariners have gone 9-6 in that stretch.

Veteran Endy Chavez got the start in center and took over the leadoff spot Saturday.

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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