OAKLAND -- With the Mariners wanting to give former second baseman Dustin Ackley more of an extensive look in center field, Michael Saunders started only two of six games prior to Sunday's series finale in Texas. But Saunders made the most of that opportunity, becoming just the third player in the Majors to get three hits in one game off Yu Darvish.
Saunders went 3-for-3 with a double against Darvish in a 3-for-4 outing and also added an RBI, a run and a stolen base as he again flashed his five-tool potential in the Mariners' 4-3 win.
Saunders had a rough stretch after missing time early in the season with a shoulder injury and is hoping to make up for that in the final month of games. But he'll need to continue stepping up in whatever opportunities he's given in order to make that happen.
"I'm just coming to the yard expecting to play," Saunders said. "If I'm not in there, I've got to make sure I'm ready to go late in the game or whenever they need me. It's something I have to learn to do. It's not something I'm used to doing in my career, but it's a matter of preparation, expecting to play, and if you're not in there, being ready to go."
Acting manager Robby Thompson continues saying he'll juggle the outfielders as best he can to keep veterans Raul Ibanez and Michael Morse fresh, while also getting time for Saunders, Ackley and even Endy Chavez at times.
"Anytime you're not in there, and I'm sure I speak for everybody in the room, it's no fun," said Saunders. "You want to be out there playing. And that goes for all of our outfielders. We're going to sit from time to time. We're not happy when we do, but nonetheless, we understand the situation and you just have to be ready to go when you get called upon."
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.