Mariners notebook: Will we see more Saunders?

Apr 6, 2014, 1:26 PM | Updated: Apr 7, 2014, 10:43 am

By Shannon Drayer

OAKLAND, Calif. – Michael Saunders is making his second start in right field. I have received a number of emails, tweets and comments asking why we haven’t seen more Saunders early on. If you were paying attention in spring training this shouldn’t be a surprise. Abraham Almonte is clearly the center fielder for now and with Corey Hart not ready to play in the outfield, the Mariners were taking good looks at others during the spring. Saunders, Stefen Romero and Logan Morrison have all received two starts in right so far. It has been a juggling act for manager Lloyd McClendon.

“Michael’s a tremendous defensive outfielder who can play all three,” McClendon said Sunday morning. “There’s a certain comfort with having him in the outfield. I would be lying to you if I said if I had a chance to DH Morrison or Hart and play Michael in the outfield I would rather do it the other way around. Obviously it gives us the best defensive outfield to have him out there. To this point everything has worked pretty nicely for us.”

McClendon is basically sacrificing defense for offense when Saunders is not out there and he knows it. It is not uncommon to see teams do this with one of the corner outfield positions. The commitments have been made to keep Dustin Ackley in left and Almonte in center unless they show they can’t handle it. So far so good with both. Almonte I think has shown he is better in center than expected and Ackley is improving. So the sacrifice is made in right when Saunders sits and so far the team has yet to be burned by it. It should be pointed out that McClendon has been quick to go to Saunders as a defensive replacement in games he did not start. This has worked out well for everyone, including Morrison, who saw Saunders make a tough play in right on the first ball put in play after he replaced him.

“He did great,” McClendon said of Morrison’s play in right. “He was excited to come out, too. When Saunders caught that ball he said, ‘That was one hell of a move, Skip.’ “


Abraham Almonte, 8
Brad Miller, 6
Robinson Cano, 4
Justin Smoak, 3
Logan Morrison, DH
Kyle Seager, 5
Dustin Ackley, 7
Michael Saunders, 9
Mike Zunino, 2

Erasmo Ramirez

McClendon is still taking things slow with Hart, who is not in the lineup today. Hart is still experiencing pain in his biceps when he swings the bat and with the off day Monday this was a good opportunity give him extra time to help quiet the issue. McClendon is encouraged by what he has seen at the plate from Hart.

“I think the light is starting to flick a little bit,” he said. “I can see the hands start to quicken up, he’s starting to recognize breaking balls better.”


• Tuesday’s Mariners home opener is a virtual sellout with only scattered single tickets remaining. Any tickets that are returned to the box office will be available at

• Big day for DJ Peterson, who picked up Baseball America Prospect Hitter of the Day honors Saturday as he went 4 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs for the High Desert Mavericks.

• Heading into today’s game, the Mariners were tied for second in the Majors with 22 extra-base hits. Justin Smoak is tied for the American-League lead in RBIs with seven.

Seattle Mariners

Mariners Cal Raleigh George Kirby...
Shannon Drayer

Talking Mariners Podcast: Breaking down Dipoto’s comments on payroll

M's pregame/postgame hosts Shannon Drayer and Curtis Rogers are back for a new Talking Mariners, with the latest Jerry Dipoto Show taking focus.
19 hours ago
Mariners Dipoto Servais...
Brent Stecker

Mariners’ Dipoto explains how their future impacts approach to payroll

If the Mariners are a "draft, develop and trade" team, what does that mean for signing free agents to big deals? Jerry Dipoto went in-depth on that Thursday on Seattle Sports.
19 hours ago
Mariners Joey Gallo...
Brandon Gustafson

Mariners Hot Stove Hype: Why Joey Gallo could be a fit in Seattle

Could OF Joey Gallo be a good fit for the Mariners? Rangers broadcaster Jared Sandler shared his insight into the two-time All-Star.
19 hours ago
Mariners Gaylord Perry...
The Associated Press

Gaylord Perry, Hall of Famer who won 300th with Mariners, dies at 84

Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry, a master of the spitball who won his 300th game as a member of the Seattle Mariners, died Thursday. He was 84.
19 hours ago
Mariners general hat glove...
Shannon Drayer

Mariners Notebook: Andy McKay named assistant GM; dates to watch

Mariners insider Shannon Drayer goes through what Andy McKay's promotion to assistant GM means and sets the stage for next week's winter meetings.
2 days ago
Mariners Trevor Gott...
Brent Stecker

Mariners sign reliever Trevor Gott to 1-year contract

The Mariners announced the addition of right-handed relief pitcher Trevor Gott on a one-year contract on Wednesday afternoon.
2 days ago
Mariners notebook: Will we see more Saunders?