SEATTLE -- The pain in Michael Saunders' right shoulder caused by a deep bruise has diminished to no pain at all and the left-handed-hitting rookie left fielder returned to the Mariners' lineup on Monday night."I'm good to go," Saunders said after taking batting practice at Safeco Field. "I hit today on the field and that felt good. I tried to turn it up a notch during BP trying to make it as game-like as possible and it felt great." Saunders was injured on Aug. 5, when he tried to prevent a home run by the Rangers' Nelson Cruz. The ball eluded his glove and his shoulder jammed into the wall. He's had only 19 at-bats since then and none since Aug. 21. An MRI exam taken on Thursday revealed a right rotator cuff contusion but no structural damage. "He had a good day [on Sunday] swinging off the tee, took early BP today, felt great and it was the best I've seen him look in the cage," interim manager Daren Brown said. "I'm excited about seeing him in there tonight. It's good to have him back and he looks like 100 percent." Saunders figures to get an opportunity to play left field on a regular basis, both for the remainder of this season and beyond. "We need to see him," Brown said. "Obviously, that creates some problems with some other guys, but we'll take that on a day-to-day basis and see what we can do. It's a problem for me, but it's a good problem trying to find ways to see everybody we want to see." Saunders went into the series opener against the Angels with .222 batting average, eight home runs and 27 RBIs in 73 games and 207 at-bats.
Mariners' callups delayed by title run
SEATTLE -- With the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers closing in on a Pacific Coast League playoff berth, the Mariners' September callups might not arrive until the middle of the month.As of Monday, the Rainiers had a 3 1/2-game lead and eight games remaining. If they reach the playoffs, the Rainiers could play two five-game series and a one-game Governor's Cup game against the International League champion, a schedule that could consume up to at least 11 days. "We've agreed that we're going to wait until after the playoffs," Brown said. "A lot of guys down there have played hard the whole year. I got to see most of it and I'm hoping they'll be able to clinch this thing in the next four or five days and celebrate. "With young kids, and we do have a young group there, it's good to be in that type atmosphere, in a playoff-type atmosphere where a little more is on the line. You may see them step up a little more or you may see them go back a little bit. But I think it's good to see that." Brown said a specific number of Minor League players joining team has not yet been determined.
Mariners running into club record book
SEATTLE -- The next base center fielder Franklin Gutierrez steals will be his 20th of the season and will mark the sixth time in franchise history that at least three Mariners pilfered that many bases in one season.The last time it happened was in 2001, one of the few positive comparisons between that team and this one. Mike Cameron, Mark McLemore and then-rookie Ichiro Suzuki ran often that season. The club record is four, set in 1987 by Phil Bradley, John Moses, Donell Nixon and Harold Reynolds. The Mariners currently rank fifth in the Majors with 112 stolen bases and are on pace for 140, which would rank as the fourth-highest total in club history. This team is not running wildly, however. The 78.9 percent success rate is the second best in club annals, topped only by the 80.6 percent rate in '01.
Magic numbers are seven and one
SEATTLE -- The best path to victory this season is for the Mariners starter to pitch at least seven innings and surrender one or no runs, although it also says a lot about Seattle's run-challenged offense.When left-hander Luke French went seven innings in Sunday afternoon's 2-1 victory over the Twins, it was the 30th time a Mariners starter had gone that far and given up that little, the most in the American League and third most in the Major Leagues. The Mariners are now 24-6 in those games. Not surprisingly, ace right-hander Felix Hernandez has the most with 10, followed by left-hander Jason Vargas (seven), right-hander Doug Fister (four) and French (three). The single-season club record is 14 shared by Hernandez (2009) and Jamie Moyer ('02).
There has been some confusion about the start of Wednesday's game against the Angels. The series finale begins at 7:10 p.m. PT. ... Ichiro Suzuki has fallen back a bit in his pursuit of another 200-hit season. He was hitless in Sunday's game and is now on pace for 206 hits, which would be his Major League record 10th straight. ... The Mariners' 3.17 ERA at home going into Monday night's game was the second-lowest team ERA in franchise history, topped only by the 3.04 mark in 2001. ... Chone Figgins has played in 1,133 innings this season, the fourth-highest total in the American League. Ichiro is seventh with 1,129.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.