With Saunders day to day, Gillespie gets start

With Saunders day to day, Gillespie gets start

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Mariners lost one of their hottest hitters Friday when Michael Saunders felt his right shoulder tighten up while swinging the bat in the third inning of a 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay, and the right fielder was out of the lineup for Saturday's rematch with the Rays.

Saunders didn't believe the injury was anything serious, but more of a discomfort. The 27-year-old was scheduled to meet with the Rays' team doctor on Saturday to make sure there's no structural problem with what manager Lloyd McClendon called "an impingement."

"Right now, he's day to day," said McClendon, who indicated no MRI test had been scheduled.

Saunders has hit .356 over his last 17 games to raise his average from .226 to .280. With six doubles, three triples and four home runs, his .448 slugging percentage on the season is second on the team behind Kyle Seager's .476 entering play Saturday.

Saunders was replaced in right field on Saturday by Cole Gillespie, who has been on a hot streak of his own. Gillespie is 7-for-13 over his last four starts to raise his average from .217 to .333. Gillespie has played 20 games for the Mariners since being called up from Tacoma on April 24. The 29-year-old outfielder spent parts of the past four seasons with the D-backs, Giants and Cubs.

The right-handed-hitting Gillespie has been used mostly against left-handed pitchers by McClendon, but was in the lineup Saturday against right-hander Alex Cobb.

"We're just trying to mix and match," McClendon said. "Righties hit this guy in the past and have had some success this year off him. I'm just trying to see what we've got. We don't have the perfect lineup, so we're just trying to mix and match and put guys in there and hopefully find a little lightning in a bottle."

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.