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May 16, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Michael Saunders gets a crack at No. 2 spot for Mariners tonight

We’ve had a late scratch, with Mike Carp being pulled from tonights lineup and Chone Figgins inserted for him in left field. No word yet on why.
Michael Saunders isn’t quite what many people envision as a No. 2 hitter. But then again, this isn’t quite your typical major league lineup the Mariners keep trotting out.
So, for tonight at least, it’s Saunders who gets to hold down the No. 2 spot in the order.
It’s something he has experience at, albeit in the minors. But hey, if the team plans to play Alex Liddi at shortstop sometime soon, why not give Saunders a try batting second?
“Ever since 2007 in the Cal League and up, I hit extensively in the two-hole,” Saunders said. “I’ve done it before.”
And he doesn’t plan any change in approach.
“I’m not turning into a guy who’s going to see 10 pitches,” he said. “I’m going to stay with my approach.”
It’s been an up-and-down year for Saunders at times. He’s batting .226 for the season, but is 5-for-18 the past week and 3-for-10 more recently.
“I’m going through a stretch right now where I know I’m not getting any extra-base hits,” he said. “But I’m still getting some singles and drawing some walks.”
Saunders has a .305 on-base percentage and .409 slugging percentage overall.
He isn’t quite what manager Eric Wedge envisions in a prototypical leadoff hitter. But right now, his options are limited.

“For me, Michael’s been getting himself into a good position to hit,” Wedge said. “He’s been in a good hitting position, he’s had some good swings. They’ve pitched him tough, he hasn’t had a lot to show for it, but I like the position he’s in and quite frankly, we’re just trying to figure out what we want to do in that spot.”
I asked Wedge what he envisions in a No. 2 hitter.
“Typically, if you have a well-balanced lineup, you’ve got a guy that can work the bat, throw the baseball around whereever he needs to, is situationally sound and understands the game,” Wedge said. “But we’re just not to that point yet.
“I think that Michael can do those things,” he added. “But it’s not prototypical by any stretch of the imagination when you have three lefties leading off the game.”
Wedge made reference to the balance the Yankees had in their lineup, causing him to use four pitchers in one inning to get three outs. He’d like to one day be in that position, or at least have something close to it.
Alex Liddi gets in another game tonight at third base, with Kyle Seager the DH. Brendan Ryan is at shortstop, trying to keep his batting average from dropping below the .140 mark.
The lineups:
2B Dustin Ackley
CF Michael Saunders
RF Ichiro
C Jesus Montero
DH Kyle Seager
1B Justin Smoak
3B Alex Liddi
LF Chone Figgins
SS Brendan Ryan
RHP Felix Hernandez
RF Shin-Soo Choo
2B Jason Kipnis
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
DH Travis Hafner
C Carlos Santana
CF Micael Brantley
LF Johnny Damon
1B Casey Kotchman
3B Jose Lopez
P Ubaldo Jimenez

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins, Jesus Montero


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