SEATTLE -- With Dustin Ackley getting a day off Friday, Mariners manager Eric Wedge put center fielder Michael Saunders into the leadoff spot for the first time in his Major League career.
Saunders had never hit higher than fifth for the Mariners until Wedge moved him up to No. 2 in the order last Wednesday in Cleveland. After five games in that spot, he got his debut in the leadoff position against the Angels on Friday.
"I've hit everywhere in the lineup now except third and fourth," Saunders said. "I'm just happy to get an opportunity to play every day. I don't care where I hit in the lineup."
Saunders, batting .224 on the season, has hit .200 (4-for-20) with a double and triple and .273 on-base percentage in his five games in the No. 2 spot with the team going 3-2 in those games.
"It's just a natural progression for me," Wedge said. "He's done a decent job in the two-hole. I like the way he fights through at-bats and we're just trying to stay as consistent as we can, relatively speaking of course."
That means keeping Ichiro Suzuki in the No. 3 spot and Kyle Seager batting cleanup, though Wedge dropped rookie catcher Jesus Montero to seventh on Friday for the first time. Montero has hit primarily in the fourth and fifth spots up to now.
"There nothing anything crazy with that," Wedge said. "It's more of a product of our lineup and trying to get better balance, we're so left-handed heavy. Until we figure out what type of Major League players we have, you can't really establish roles in regard to where they're going to be in the lineup until they play more and you figure out exactly what you have."
Wedge rests Ackley on bobblehead night
SEATTLE -- About 20,000 Mariners fans received Dustin Ackley bobbleheads on Friday, but they didn't get a chance to see Ackley play in person as manager Eric Wedge gave the young second baseman the night off.
Wedge was just resting Ackley as part of his plan to keep players fresh during a stretch of 20 games in 20 days and didn't realize it was Ackley's promotional day until told by the media in his pregame session before facing the Angels.
"Oh geez, is it? I didn't get that memo," Wedge said. "Well, it shows you how much I pay attention to that, I guess. He can revel in his own bobblehead without having to worry about playing then, how about that? I'm surprised I haven't gotten a phone call on that one yet."
Ackley, who matches Wedge in his single-minded focus, wasn't concerned about the oversight.
"I don't think he really worries about anything beyond what's going on in the field," Ackley said. "And that's good."
Angels outfielder Peter Bourjos had the same thing happen earlier this year when he didn't play on his first bobblehead day either.
"Maybe that's a theme now," Ackley said with a laugh. "You get a bobblehead and you get a night off."
Ackley was taking some good-natured ribbing from teammates both for having the bobblehead and for not playing on "his" day, but acknowledged it was a nice compliment to have his likeness being handed out and said the designers did a good job.
"It's pretty cool," he said. "There are some resemblances, yeah. The beard is pretty good. I wish it was a little thicker, but overall they did a pretty good job. The bat, the elbow guard, they got all the little things you wouldn't always expect to see."
Now if he was just able to get a chance to play on his day.
"If it was up to me, I wouldn't have a single day off," Ackley said. "But you have to go with the flow. They always told me, 'If you don't like it, play better.' I heard that a lot in the Minor Leagues."
Gutierrez still working on heel issue
SEATTLE -- Injured Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez took batting practice and did some light running on his sore right heel for a third straight day on Friday, but manager Eric Wedge said he's still having some effect from plantar fasciitis when he's pushing off with his foot.
Wedge said it's not certain when Gutierrez will head to Arizona to begin playing in extended spring workouts. Gutierrez has been on the disabled list since early in Spring Training with a torn pectoral muscle and has spent the past few weeks recovering from the heel problem.
"He looks good," Wedge said. "We're going to see where he's at at the end of this week with regard to whether he's ready to go to Arizona or not. That's what we're hoping for. He ran again today. Is he 100 percent? No, just talking about the heel. Everything else is looking pretty good, the BP and arm.
"We just have to see what kind of progress he makes here in the next couple days. We'll talk about it Sunday and see if we need to keep him here a couple more days before he goes to Arizona or if he's ready to go out."
After Gutierrez plays about a week in Arizona, he'll go out on a 20-day Minor League rehab stint before being ready to join the Mariners. The 2010 Gold Glove outfielder said he's just trying to maintain a positive attitude after dealing with various health issues for two straight years now.
"You need to be on the field to show what you can do," he said. "I'm just trying to stay healthy right now and come back and play my game."
• Catcher John Jaso was back in the lineup -- at designated hitter -- after not playing since taking a hard foul ball off his shoulder in the ninth inning Monday against Texas. Jaso said he couldn't throw the ball on Tuesday but was recovered sufficiently now to catch if needed and had no trouble swinging the bat.
• Felix Hernandez has thrown five games of eight innings or more while allowing one or fewer runs this season. No other pitcher in baseball has done that more than twice.
• When Ichiro stole second base on Thursday, he passed Marquis Grissom for 33rd on the all-time steals list with 430. He's now two steals behind Tris Speaker and six back of John McGraw, both Hall of Famers.
• Ackley became the 15th Mariners player to be featured on a bobblehead on Friday, along with three non-players (Dave Niehaus, Larry Bernandez and the Moose). Ichiro has been featured on 12 different bobbleheads and Felix Hernandez has had five, with another coming later this year.