SEATTLE -- With Robinson Cano out, right fielder Michael Saunders was batting third Sunday against Detroit right-hander Max Scherzer after sitting out Saturday against left-hander Drew Smyly. Sunday marked the third time in the last four games Saunders was hitting in the spot typically designated for a team's best hitter.
No surprise. Saunders was arguably the team's hottest player in May, batting .318 with four doubles, two triples, two home runs and 18 RBIs in 26 games.
The Victoria, B.C. native has batted in every spot in the lineup this season.
Does he change anything when he's hitting third?
"You can't change your approach just because of the position in the lineup you're at," he said. "I don't try to look at it any differently. I don't try to put any more pressure on myself … it's just another spot in the order. Just because you change a position doesn't mean people's expectations of you should change and likewise your own expectations of you shouldn't change. At this point of the career, hopefully you've learned the type of player you are and you just stick to what makes you successful."
After using Saunders in a platoon role for about the first month of the season, manager Lloyd McClendon has put him in a starting role -- with the caveat that he typically gets a few days off every week.
"Anytime the manager writes up the lineup there's going to be certain people in the clubhouse who are unhappy about it. Everyone wants to play," Saunders said. "My job is not to write the lineup. My job is come here ready to play and if I'm not in there be ready late in the game."
Saunders missed two games in mid-May with a hyperextended left knee. He said he's back to 100 percent and that he wants to be in the lineup. Every day.
"I don't like not playing. I want to play," Saunders said. "I want to contribute, but like I said I'm not the one writing out the lineup. When I am in there I just have to continue to try to put up professional at-bats and play my game. I prepare my body in the offseason to handle that 162-game schedule. It is what it is. I just have to get ready to do whatever my role may be."
Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less