Mariners' Saunders takes batting practice as shoulder improves

Staff writerApril 19, 2013 

ARLINGTON, Texas – Batting practice never felt so good.

Michael Saunders, who has spent the past week on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain, took batting practice early Friday afternoon. It was a small step in his recovery, but an important one.

“It was feeling much better,” Saunders said of his shoulder.

Manager Eric Wedge liked what he saw.

“His BP looked good,” Wedge said. “It was a good start for him. He was swinging and keeping both hands on the bat and not releasing to protect it a little bit. You have to keep baby stepping a little bit.”

Saunders felt no soreness or fatigue after the session.

“It felt good,” he said. “I’m doing a lot of exercises and some days I’m a little bit more tired than the others. It’s a good sign because there isn’t much pain anymore, there’s just some tightness. It was good signs for the first day of taking batting practice on the field.”

Saunders continued his running, conditioning and whatever he is allowed to do.

“I’m just trying to stay in shape, keep my legs going and make sure the rest of my body is ready when my shoulder is,” he said.

It helps him fight the restlessness of not being able to play and having to watch.

“It’s tough,” he said. “Watching baseball on TV or from the bench, it’s definitely tough not being out there.”

Saunders will start throwing in a few days and hopes to come off the disabled list when he is eligible on April 26.

“That’s the goal, that’s the plan,” he said.

When Saunders comes back, Wedge said it seems unlikely the team would keep six outfielders active. That means making a place for Saunders could mean veterans Endy Chavez or Jason Bay being designated for assignment.

Another scenario could have the Mariners placing Franklin Gutierrez on the 15-day disabled list if his aching legs don’t improve. It’s a long shot, but possible.

Gutierrez was idle Friday because of discomfort in his hamstrings and groin.

“We are still trying to help him with his lower half,” Wedge said. “I think it stems from his lower half. They get out of line and it sort of affects his legs. He didn’t feel very good yesterday. He feels better today. We’ll see how his work goes out here and go from there.”

Wedge wasn’t sure if Gutierrez would be able to pinch hit or fill in as a defensive replacement.

“I’m going to see how he feels after he does his work,” Wedge said.

RYAN GETS A REST

Brendan Ryan was out of the lineup. Wedge said his regular shortstop was healthy, but the manager wanted to change things up.

“I want to get Robert (Andino) in there a little bit more, he did some things (Thursday) and Ryan’s had some struggles,” Wedge said. “I’m just trying to put the best team out there. To get Robert on track, we have to play him a little more.”

Also, Ryan has been scuffing at the plate. He has two hits in his past 28 plate appearances and is hitting .167 this season.

“He should be our best bunter, and he has to get that bunt down,” Wedge said. “We just need him to turn the corner. We’ve talked about it before. He just gets in his own way too much. He has to get beyond that sometime.”

ON TAP

Saturday’s 5:05 p.m. game at Texas will feature Seattle rookie Brandon Maurer (1-2, 9.95 ERA) against Nick Tepesch (1-1, 3.46) in a duel of right-handers. Mauer picked up his first major league win from the same duel April 14 at Safeco Field. The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 710-AM.

Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483
ryan.divish@thenewstribune.com
blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners
@RyanDivish

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