SEATTLE -- Robinson Cano was out of the lineup again Sunday because of a bone bruise on the outside of his left hand between his thumb and index finger. It marked the fourth consecutive game manager Lloyd McClendon chose to rest his $240 million second baseman.
"He's a tough guy but we got to manage 162 games. Not a three-game series or four days," McClendon said. "As a former player I know how painful bone bruises can be and how nagging they can be. The right thing to do is to get it quieted down so you can proceed and get ready to play again so we're almost there. We'll see how he is tomorrow."
McClendon said Cano has been taking ground balls, doing cardio and lifting weights but hasn't participated in hitting drills. He didn't offer a timetable for his return, but Cano was listed as an available pinch-hitter on the lineup card.
Cano didn't speak to the media, but McClendon maintained that his hand was improving.
What caused the injury?
"I'm not so sure if it was just inside pitches. It's just one jar. It doesn't have to be an inside pitch that can cause it," McClendon said.
Cano played the first 52 games of the season, hitting .327 with two home runs and 31 RBIs before sitting out the final portion of Seattle's season-high, 11-game homestand.
Missing this length of time is rare for Cano. Dating back to 2007, he has appeared in 1,172 out of 1,189 games. Meanwhile, the last year he sat out more than three games was 2006, when he played just 122 with the Yankees.
Saunders bats third after sitting
SEATTLE -- With Robinson Cano out, right fielder Michael Saunders was batting third Sunday against Detroit right-hander Max Scherzer after sitting out Saturday against left-hander Drew Smyly. Sunday marked the third time in the last four games Saunders was hitting in the spot typically designated for a team's best hitter.
No surprise. Saunders was arguably the team's hottest player in May, batting .318 with four doubles, two triples, two home runs and 18 RBIs in 26 games.
The Victoria, B.C. native has batted in every spot in the lineup this season.
Does he change anything when he's hitting third?
"You can't change your approach just because of the position in the lineup you're at," he said. "I don't try to look at it any differently. I don't try to put any more pressure on myself … it's just another spot in the order. Just because you change a position doesn't mean people's expectations of you should change and likewise your own expectations of you shouldn't change. At this point of the career, hopefully you've learned the type of player you are and you just stick to what makes you successful."
After using Saunders in a platoon role for about the first month of the season, manager Lloyd McClendon has put him in a starting role -- with the caveat that he typically gets a few days off every week.
"Anytime the manager writes up the lineup there's going to be certain people in the clubhouse who are unhappy about it. Everyone wants to play," Saunders said. "My job is not to write the lineup. My job is come here ready to play and if I'm not in there be ready late in the game."
Saunders missed two games in mid-May with a hyperextended left knee. He said he's back to 100 percent and that he wants to be in the lineup. Every day.
"I don't like not playing. I want to play," Saunders said. "I want to contribute, but like I said I'm not the one writing out the lineup. When I am in there I just have to continue to try to put up professional at-bats and play my game. I prepare my body in the offseason to handle that 162-game schedule. It is what it is. I just have to get ready to do whatever my role may be."
Bloomquist finds success in run-producing situations
SEATTLE -- Willie Bloomquist was in the lineup starting at second base for the second game in a row Sunday after knocking in a pair of two-out RBI singles in Saturday night's 3-2 win.
Since 2012, Bloomquist is batting .414 (41-for-99) with runners in scoring position and .346 (18-for-52) with two outs and RISP.
"He's a veteran guy," McClendon said. "He knows what he's doing. He has not had a lot of opportunities, but when you're a utility player, that's what happens. When you do get those opportunities you got to take advantage of them. He's done that."
Bloomquist said the biggest challenge with getting spot starts is avoiding the urge to swing at pitches out of the strike zone.
How does he explain his success with runners in scoring position?
"I do my homework and try to study a lot and try to figure out guys tendencies and how they try to pitch me in certain situations and use that to my advantage," he said. "It's nothing definite, but I try to put the odds in my favor as much as I can."
Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.