I don't know why Michael Saunders isn't playing. Mariners manager Eric Wedge has said he's been disappointed with the consistency of Saunders and others, specifically their approach at the plate from game to game and at-bat to at-bat and pitch to pitch.
Wedge is also playing Raul Ibanez out of respect for what he's done for most of this season and the work he's put in with this team and the young players. And I can respect that.
"I have group over here that says I should play him more and I have group over there saying I should play him less because of the younger kids," Wedge said. "For me, it's all about the respect that he's earned. It is about the length of the season. I'm trying to walk that line to play him as much as I can, but also understand it's important to get the young kids in as much as we can too."
There is often the complaint that playing Ibanez instead is somehow hindering Saunders' development. At this point, Michael Saunders has played more than 450 big league games. He's kind of past the developmental stage. The Mariners and baseball have a pretty good idea of who he is and what he is as a player. Sure he could obviously get better, but getting a few more games at the end of a lost season won't be the deciding factor.
Saunders is part of this team going forward, but I'm not sure on what level. At the beginning of the season, you could see him being an every day guy going forward. His struggles and the possibility of adding new faces has made that far from a guarantee.
Taijuan Walker is done pitching for this season. But he will remain with the team until the end. He will continue to condition and work out, while watching games and learning from them.
"He's going to watch a lot of baseball," Wedge said. "Everything now is about preparing for next year. I think it's a good thing to watch big league baseball and watch his teammates compete and feel good about his year."
Walker made three starts with the Mariners, pitching a total of 15 innings and with a 3.60 ERA. It's a small sample size but an important one.
"It was a short period of time, but I was very impressed with him," Wedge said. "To get all those firsts out of the way and do it like he did it, which was in a very fine fashion, was big."
Wedge talked about Walker being able to go home in the offseason and know that he eliminated so many of the unknowns about pitching about the big league level.
"He has a pretty good idea of how it works," Wedge said.
And Walker should have a pretty good idea he will be competing for a spot in the rotation in spring training.
"No doubt about it," Wedge said. "He most definitely should be. He should come in here next year and work to make this ball club. He should definitely feel that way. "