For Saunders, trade from Mariners to Blue Jays is exciting but not easy

Dec 4, 2014, 12:48 PM | Updated: 1:32 pm
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"I haven't really known another organization besides Seattle," said Michael Saunders, who had been with the Mariners since he was drafted in 2004. (AP)
(AP)

Michael Saunders used the one word you might expect to describe his feelings about being traded from Seattle to Toronto.

“It is bittersweet,” Saunders said when he joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” on Thursday, a day after the Mariners dealt him to the Blue Jays in exchange for left-hander J.A. Happ.

Saunders, a British Columbia native, will not only be playing in his home country but he’ll be playing every day as Toronto’s starting left fielder, something he wasn’t doing in Seattle last season.

But leaving the Mariners isn’t easy.

“I haven’t really known another organization besides Seattle. I was drafted when I was 18 and just found out I was traded last night at 28, so 10 years later,” he said. “Really, the organization, this city and the fan base helped me kind of become not only the man I am today but the baseball player I am today. So it’s something that’s going to be sorely missed. But that being said, I’m definitely excited to move on and get the opportunity to go and play for Toronto.”

Saunders’ trade didn’t come as much of a surprise given the rift that had grown between him and the organization. He played sparingly last season, even later in the year when he returned from his second stint on the disabled list. That was tough for Saunders not only because he had been an everyday player the previous two years but because of how Seattle’s season ended just short of a playoff berth.

“It was difficult. I want to play, I want to help and I feel like I could have done that,” he said. “I just feel like I could have done so much more this season aside from being injured. When I was healthy, I wanted to play. Unfortunately, things like that happen. It was a really terrible feeling that we came one game short. … But I just feel like I could have done so much more this year if given the opportunity.”

Comments made by general manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Lloyd McClendon at the end of the season regarding Saunders’ preparation seemed to inflame the situation. Asked about his relationship with McClendon, Saunders said, “We’re fine” and that he understands the team’s decision to trade him.

And whatever issues the two sides have had, Saunders said they parted ways on good terms.

“The organization called me and had nothing but nice things to say and wished me luck on my way and thanked me for everything that went down for the last couple of years,” he said. “We had a very professional phone call and it was very happy on both sides. I think it was basically just two teams filling needs.”

No starting pitcher.

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For Saunders, trade from Mariners to Blue Jays is exciting but not easy