By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
Michael Saunders returned to the starting lineup for the first time since suffering a hyperextended left knee last Saturday when he stumbled and fell while chasing a fly ball in right field.
“I’m ready to go,” he said.
Saunders returned as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup, a role he’s filled 39 times as a starter in his career but not since last September. He batted leadoff in 12 of his 13 starts this season prior to the injury.
“The general consensus is (as a No. 2 hitter) you might see more fastballs,” Saunders said. “I think it depends more on the pitcher, and it depends on how guys typically get you out.
“That being said, a guy like (James) Jones gets on first base, he’s a threat to steal. You might see another fastball here or there. But I really feel (for the most part), they’re going to pitch to their strength and to your weaknesses.”
Left-handed pitcher James Paxton will throw two simulated innings today. It will be his first work against hitters since a strained left back muscle forced his exit from the April 8 game against the Angels. Barring a setback, Paxton is expected to throw one more simulated game before heading out on a minor-league rehab assignment.
Plans call for right-hander Taijuan Walker to throw about 45 pitches today in his third bullpen workout since his shoulder soreness resurfaced in mid-April. If all goes well, he is likely to pitch a simulated game by the middle of next week.
For those scoring at home, Major League Baseball issued some scoring changes for recent games. Saunders received credit for a bunt single on May 6 in Oakland on what had been scored as a sacrifice bunt and a throwing error by A’s reliever Jim Johnson. Saunders’ average inched up from .226 to .235. MLB also reversed an error charged to Robinson Cano at second base on May 1 in New York. Mark Teixeira is now credited with a single, which added an earned run to Roenis Elias’ line. Elias’ ERA went from 3.69 to 3.88.
Before Triple-A Tacoma infielder Chris Taylor landed on the seven-day disabled list because of a broken finger, he played well enough to draw recognition from Baseball America in its weekly Prospect Hot Sheet.
“Drafted because of his glove,” Baseball America noted, “the 23-year-old Taylor has proven to be a much better with the bat than expected.”
Taylor has a .372/.414/.593 slash in 35 games with the Rainiers and loomed as a possible call-up candidate until his injury, which occurred Tuesday on a slide at second base. The injury, a slight fracture on the baby finger of Taylor’s left hand, isn’t believed to be serious, but the Mariners won’t have a firm idea on a recovery schedule until Taylor is re-examined next week in Seattle.