John Boyle Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Michael Saunders will spend the next two weeks on the disabled list, but all things considered, the Mariners’ outfielder knows it could have been much worse.
After crashing into the wall catching a deep fly ball off the bat of Jose Altuve Wednesday night, Saunders feared the worst while down on the warning track. Instead, Saunders has a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder, an injury that landed him on the 15-day DL, but one that shouldn’t keep him out beyond that.
“I was a little scared when I was lying on the ground, because I thought that it was a lot worse than what it turned out to be,” Saunders said. ” … When I hit the wall and fell over, it kind of went numb. My initial reaction was I thought it was my collar bone. I definitely thought something was wrong, however out of a bad situation, it was the best-case scenario.”
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said getting his Canadian outfielder to even accept a 15-day stint on the DL was no easy task.
“Trust me, he did not want to go on the DL, he’s got that hockey mentality,” Wedge said. “But we’ve got to do what’s best for him and what’s best for the ball club.”
And don’t expect Saunders to take it easy when he returns.
“If I could do it all over again, I’d do the exact same thing,” he said. “As an outfielder I’m there to make the catch. I’m not pulling up because of the wall.”
With Saunders out, the Mariners recalled outfielder Endy Chavez from Class AAA Tacoma. Chavez, 35, hit .429 in six games with the Rainiers. Right-hander Kameron Loe, who has struggled out of the bullpen this season, was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
M’s acquire Harang
With No. 4 and 5 starters Brandon Maurer and Blake Beavan both struggling, and with options in AAA limited, the Mariners added depth to their pitching staff Thursday, acquiring veteran right-hander Aaron Harang in a trade with Colorado. Harang, 34, was 10-10 last season for the Los Angeles Dodgers with a career-best 3.61 ERA. He was traded by L.A. to Colorado earlier this month, then the Rockies designated him for assignment.
While Harang has not pitched this season, he has been getting work in on his own, Wedge said, and will throw a bullpen session after arriving in Seattle today. The Mariners will wait to see Harang throw before deciding whether or not to add him to the rotation or use him as a long reliever.
“We have starters, so the fact that he’s going to bump somebody is a little premature right now, but he is a starting pitcher,” said general manager Jack Zduriencik, who confirmed that the Mariners are not paying Harang’s full salary. “If he is in good shape and his pitch count is where we think it needs to be and his bullpen is successful, we’ll address it after that.”
Gutierrez leading off
Prior to Saunders’ injury, Wedge had been swapping Saunders and Gutierrez at the top of the order depending on the pitching matchup, but with Saunders out, Gutierrez will lead off against righties and lefties for now. That move worked out on Thursday, with Gutierrez hitting his third leadoff homerun of the season.
“We’ve got a couple of other guys we could use in that role, but Gut would probably be my first pick right now with Saunders out,” Wedge said.