SEATTLE -- Josh Kinney is a realist. He's been in pro ball for 12 years. And while he pitched two games in the 2006 World Series for the Cardinals, he's spent most of his time in the Minor Leagues.

The right-handed reliever sat in the Mariners' Safeco Field clubhouse for a second straight day on Monday underneath a nameplate where "Kinney" was written in magic marker instead of on the permanent plates adorning his teammates' lockers.

"In my situation, you take things day by day," Kinney said with a smile.

The 33-year-old was called up from Triple-A Tacoma on Sunday to help cover for a short-handed bullpen. He was warming up late in that afternoon's game, but didn't get the call before Boston rallied for a 2-1 win in the 10th inning.

"There's no adrenaline rush like warming up for a Major League game," he said.

Kinney has 45 games of big league experience with the Cardinals from 2006-09, and pitched 13 games for the White Sox last year. He was with the White Sox last August when they played in Seattle, and decided then he would like to play in the Northwest if the opportunity arose.

"I'd never been to this part of the country other than playing Tacoma," he said. "And in Triple-A, you never really get out and see anything. I remember getting up here and it was cold and rainy and they had a trailer out there [in Cheney Stadium] for the visiting clubhouse, and I said if I ever have a chance to play for those guys, it ain't gonna happen.

"But when we came up in the big leagues and played here at Safeco last season, it was just awesome. Beautiful blue skies and I personally love seafood and the atmosphere downtown, and I fell in love with the place. I thought, 'Man, this is great.' So when they called this offseason, I was really excited."

He was even more excited when Rainiers manager Darren Brown called him Saturday night with the news that he was headed to Seattle.

"This isn't my first time in the big leagues," Kinney said, "but that phone call never gets old."

Saunders feeling better, likely back on Tuesday

SEATTLE -- Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders took batting practice and did some pregame work on Monday, but was again not in the lineup as he returns from an intestinal flu that sidelined him the previous three games.

Saunders hopes to be ready to play by Tuesday's game against the Orioles, now that he's finally able to eat again.

"I was man down for a little while," Saunders said. "But I got a good sleep last night and finally had some appetite today, which was most encouraging for me. I still feel weak and am trying to gradually build back strength, but that should come back with being able to eat."

The Mariners sent Saunders home on Friday, but he spent the Saturday and Sunday games watching from the Safeco Field training room while hooked up at times to an IV for fluids. With Franklin Gutierrez on the seven-day disabled list with a concussion, the Mariners were down to three healthy outfielders, and Saunders said he'd have played if necessary.

"I had my cleats in the training room and my jersey on," he said. "If the team needed me, yes, I'd have been out there. I was fully ready to go if somebody went down. It would have been interesting, but I would have gone out there and done my best. Luckily, nothing happened."

Manager Eric Wedge said he's hoping to get Saunders back in action Tuesday.

Montero, Smoak out of the lineup

SEATTLE -- Catcher Jesus Montero and first baseman Justin Smoak, both battling through tough spells at the plate, were given Monday off as the Mariners opened a three-game series against the Orioles.

Montero is hitless in his last 17 at-bats as his average has dropped to .249. Smoak doubled in his final at-bat in Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Red Sox, but is just 2-for-30 in his last nine games, and his average is down to .204.

Manager Eric Wedge had Dustin Ackley at first base on Monday in Smoak's place, with Munenori Kawasaki starting at second. With Ichiro Suzuki in right field and Hisashi Iwakuma making his first Major League start on the mound, the game marked the first time in MLB history that three Japanese players started in the same lineup.

Wedge wanted to give Montero and Smoak a day to work on some things in pregame and then just watch the game. He indicated both would be back in the lineup on Tuesday.

"With Montero, he's just young and going through a lot of young things, having some youthful at-bats," Wedge said. "He's got a lot of ability; he's just working through some failure that he probably hasn't had before. The difference up here is these guys are facing good pitching each and every night. There's no let up, no days off.

"With Smoak, it's a combination of things. He's further along in his young career, but he's working to figure out some things, too. Some are mechanical, some are about his approach and what-not.

"Smoaker is best when he's loose and free and easy and working to get a good pitch to hit and letting the rest take care of itself," said Wedge. "Montero is best when he's not in quite such a hurry up there and works to get a better pitch to hit instead of trying to cover everything. These are two players that are going to have fine Major League careers and potentially even better than that, but right now they're going through some things they just have to go through."

Worth noting

• Kevin Millwood did some throwing before Monday's game and everything went fine as he remains on schedule to return to the rotation on Friday in Oakland. Millwood's start was pushed back several days due to soreness in his groin muscle that ended his last outing after 2 2/3 innings.

• Mike Carp took batting practice and shagged balls in the outfield Monday for the first time since going on the 15-day disabled list on June 13 with problems with his right shoulder. Carp isn't throwing yet, however, and continues to strengthen his shoulder before he'll eventually get a chance to return to full action with a Minor League rehab stint.

• The Mariners have opened up a fourth section of seats for King's Court down the left-field line for Tuesday night's game against the Orioles. With Felix Hernandez pitching, the seats cost $30 and will come with a new blue "King's Court" T-shirt designed for the Fourth of July holiday.

This will be just the second time the section has ever been expanded to four sections. Tickets are available at mariners.com/kingscourt.