Michael Saunders has moved up in the order and is batting second. In the last two games, he's had three doubles and a triple. He and manager Eric Wedge said it that the success could be a product of a minor swing adjustment he made in St. Louis.
"I made a minor adjustment with my hands," Saunders said. "I kind have them further back and further up. I keep my same trigger, but it minimizes movement. It helps me basically be ready earlier. I felt like I was getting myself in a position to get a ball I wanted to attack, but I would foul it off or miss it. I think a lot of it had to do with not getting my hands in position to fire from on time. I'm just looking to simplify things. It's a minor adjustment, but I really feel like it's really helped me out the last couple of games."
Wedge likes the change.
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"I think what he's doing now is so encouraging," Wedge said. "It is less movement. It's more subtle. It's less violent and it allows him to get back slower. When he's good, as big as he is, he's actually short to the ball. But when he gets in between that's when he gets some length to his swing."
So how did he decide on this chance?
"I guess with where my hand placement was, kind of low and in front of my body, I know where I want my hands to get to in order to fire from and I think that was my biggest adjustment was getting there on time," Saunders said. "So I decided to cheat a little bit, start them up where I want them to be and keep my same trigger. This way is a lot more consistent of getting them where I want to be."
The change came after Saunders kept getting hittable fastballs that he would foul off or "filleting them into left field."
"It's something I wasn't doing last year," he said. "I feel like I made a stride forward last year and I feel like I made a stride backward this year."
Saunders, has had a disappointing season, hitting .237 with 10 homers and 42 RBI. He's struck out 107 times in 327 at-bats. He had brutal 27 game stretch after coming off the disabled list in May, hitting .180 (18-for-100) with 39 strikeouts.
Now he's just fighting for playing time in a crowded Mariners outfield. It makes finding hitting consistency difficult with sporadic playing time
"It's not easy," he said. "I'm not going to lie to you guys. But it's the situation we are in right now with the outfielders we have. By no means have I earned an every day spot out there to this spot. In order for me to get back on track when I do get the opportunity, I have to make sure I'm ready and it starts with preparation in the cage and BP."
Felix Hernandez to start on Sunday
Felix Hernandez threw a bullpen before the game and it well enough for the Mariners to schedule him to start on Sunday in Anaheim. Hernandez threw 58 pitches.
As he walked by Jeff Evans of the Mariners media relations, he said: "You can book it, Sunday."
Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis supervised the session and was pleased with what he saw.
"Felix was back to being Felix today," Willis said. "He was strong, threw all of his pitches for strikes and had great command."
Erasmo Ramirez will start on Friday in Anaheim, Joe Saunders will go on Saturday and Hernandez on Sunday.
Brad Miller was out doing more running pregame. He's getting closer to a return. "We'll push him a little more tomorrow," Wedge said. ... Kyle Seager is 2-for-40 in his last 11 games. Seager has started 105 straight games at third base. And fatigue may be a factor. "He's made it very clear that he wants to push all the way through this, but we'll just have to see," Wedge said.