After missing six games with a mild groin strain, outfielder Michael Saunders returned to the Seattle Mariners lineup Friday.
“We had to be cautious, I wanted to play a healthy September,” Saunders said.
Saunders was injured on the final play of the Aug. 24 game in Chicago, when he and outfielder Eric Thames slammed together in pursuit of a fly ball – with the impact knocking the ball from Thames glove and costing Seattle the game.
How exactly was Saunders hurt?
“I don’t know,” he admitted. “I know Eric’s elbow hit me in the jaw and as we went down I think we cracked heads as we both hit the fence. He’s built like a truck.
“I got hit by an 18-wheeler.”
Though he’s back in the lineup, the team will watch him closely.
“It was real, and if we’d pulled the trigger early and put him back in too soon we could have lost him for the season,” manager Eric Wedge said. “We’ll have to keep an eye on him, especially in the outfield.
“Michael can be smart coming out of the batters box and on the bases. In the outfield he can’t really be cautious.”
Saunders returned to the lineup with 30 games remaining, batting .246 with 14 home runs and 43 RBI. His goal for the final month of 2012?
“Win the wild card,” Saunders said. “Every year there’s a Cinderella story, why can’t this year be ours?”
Major league rosters expand today, although the Mariners apparently won’t alter theirs.
“We’re going to let Tacoma finish it’s season (Monday) before we bring anyone up,” Wedge said.
The team is expected to recall players who spent time in Seattle earlier in the year – Mike Carp, Casper Wells, Shawn Kelley and Erasmo Ramirez, among others.
They could also bring up true rookies, even if they did nothing more than watch from the bench and get a feel for being with the big league team.
Today marks the first of three consecutive day games for the Mariners at home, a rarity in scheduling. Monday’s game, against the Boston Red Sox, will begin at 1:10 p.m. Trayvon Robinson had a solid road trip – batting .320 with a double, home run and three stolen bases. Add schedule: The Wednesday Mariners-Red Sox game listed on pocket schedules as a day game will start at 7:10 p.m. Through the same number of games as a year ago, Seattle hitters are batting two points lower (.232-.234) but have hit 30 more home runs than in 2011. Thames has four home runs with Seattle, and each has either tied the game or put the Mariners ahead. That’s no surprise. Of his 19 career home runs, 11 have tied games or put his team ahead – including six of his seven in 2012.
Seattle hosts the L.A. Angels in a 1:05 p.m. game that will be televised on Ch. 13. Probable starting pitchers: Ervin Santana (7-11, 5.45 ERA) vs. Felix Hernandez (13-5, 2.43).email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @LarryLarue