LOS ANGELES – Michael Saunders continued his breakout year in Castle Rock, Colo., on Tuesday, where he spent the day with wife Jessica and their first child, a daughter born early in the day.
The Seattle Mariners weren’t certain whether Saunders would be back with the team for the start of the series with the Angels, and he was originally in the starting lineup in right field.
Hours before the game, manager Eric Wedge was in contact with Saunders, 25, and afterward slid Eric Thames into the lineup.
Saunders could return to the team today.
There were other lineup considerations for Wedge, who sat rookie Jesus Montero while catching Miguel Olivo and using John Jaso at designated hitter. Why wasn’t Montero in?
“Jesus had the off day (Monday), and I just wanted to give him two days in a row off,” Wedge said. “Against Zach Greinke, Olivo has had a little success, and Montero had never faced him.”
Olivo was 2-for-5 in his career against Greinke. Montero was 5-for-25 during Seattle’s six-game homestand and has not homered since Sept. 2. The Mariners think the youngster is pressing.
After missing 21/2 games because of a stiff neck, Dustin Ackley returned to the lineup and batted leadoff.
JASO’S CHIN CHAOS
The beard that Jaso began growing just before the All-Star break has taken on a life of its own, and the catcher/DH doesn’t mind letting it go.
And because he doesn’t really trim the beard, the question arose – how long is too long?
“It’s already 10 times longer than any other time I’ve grown a beard,” Jaso said. “I wake up in the morning and my hair and beard are going every direction – it’s chaos.”
On Twitter and Facebook, his looks have been compared to that of mountain men, cavemen and the Amish. Jaso is none of those, just a player having fun with facial hair.
“My fiancée likes it, and she’s the only other person who really has a vote,” Jaso said. “If I keep it this offseason, I’m going to get some length to it.”
Jaso’s teammates like the look and want him to keep it. Management hasn’t weighed in, but Jaso isn’t certain what he’ll look like come spring training.
“There is a line of professionalism,” he said. “This is a job.”
Lucas Luetge has inherited 50 baserunners in his first 62 relief appearances this season, and stranded 42 of them – allowing a stingy 16 percent to score. That’s currently the seventh-best percentage by a reliever with at least 30 inherited runners in franchise history. Who was the best? Bill Wilkinson, in 1988, allowed only four of 34 inherited runners to score (11.8 percent). … Felix Hernandez will start today, and while the Angels haven’t exactly pounded him, his career numbers against them – 6-11 with a 3.89 earned-run average in 28 starts – are hardly stellar. This year hasn’t helped. Felix is 0-2 with a 5.75 ERA vs. Los Angeles in 2012.
Seattle plays Los Angeles in Anaheim, a 7:05 p.m. game that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Seattle’s Hernandez (13-8, 2.85 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (12-10, 3.82).email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @LarryLaRue