Mariners notes: Saunders takes batting practice

ARLINGTON, Texas — Batting practice never felt so good. Michael Saunders, who has spent the last week on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain, took batting practice on the field early Friday afternoon. It was a small step in his recovery, but an important one.

“It was feeling much better,” Saunders said.

Wedge liked what he saw.

“His BP looked good,” Wedge said. “It was a good start for him. He was swinging and keeping both hands on the bat and not releasing to protect it a little bit. You have to keep baby stepping a little bit.”

Saunders said he felt no soreness or fatigue after the session.

“It felt good,” he said. “I’m doing a lot of exercises and some days I’m a little bit more tired than the others. It’s a good sign because there isn’t much pain anymore, there’s just some tightness. It was good signs for the first day of taking batting practice on the field.”

Saunders has had a manic work ethic, continuing his running and conditioning and doing whatever is allowed.

“I’m just trying to stay in shape, keep my legs going and make sure the rest of my body is ready when my shoulder is,” he said.

It helps fight the restlessness of not being able to play and having to watch.

“It’s tough,” he said. “Watching baseball on TV or from the bench, it’s definitely tough not being out there.”

Saunders will start throwing in a few days. And he hopes to leave the disabled list when he is eligible on April 26.

“That’s the goal, that’s the plan,” he said.

Managing without Gutierrez

Gutierrez was out of the lineup again on Friday because of discomfort in his hamstrings and groin.

“We are still trying to help him with his lower half,” Wedge said. “I think it stems from his lower half. … He didn’t feel very good yesterday. He feels better today. We’ll see how his work goes out here and go from there.”

It makes writing out a lineup a little more difficult.

“We are trying to manage it,” Wedge said. “It’s tough. I talked to him today. You just keep communicating with him and the trainers keep working on him and hopefully we can get on the good side of this.”

Wedge wasn’t sure if Gutierrez would be able to pinch hit or fill in as a defensive replacement for the game.

“I’m going to see how he feels after he does his work,” Wedge said.

Ryan gets a rest

Brendan Ryan was out of the lineup Friday. Wedge said he wanted to change things up a little, inserting Robert Andino into Ryan’s place at shortstop.

“I want to get Robert in there a little bit more, he did some things yesterday and Ryan’s had some struggles,” Wedge said. “I’m just trying to put the best team out there. To get Robert on track, we have to play him a little more.”

It’s also because Ryan has been missing at the plate. He has just two hits in his past 32 plate appearances.

“He should be our best bunter, and he has to get that bunt down,” Wedge said. “We just need him to turn the corner. We’ve talked about it before. He just gets in his own way too much. He has to get beyond that some time.”

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