6/27/2014 3:43 P.M. ET
Mariners activate Saunders, option Montero
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Mariners right fielder Michael Saunders was activated off the 15-day disabled list and immediately inserted back in the starting lineup for Friday night's series opener against the Indians.
Though Saunders fared well hitting first and second prior to injuring his right shoulder, manager Lloyd McClendon penciled him into the No. 7 spot while sticking with Endy Chavez and James Jones atop the order.
"Having him in the seven-hole obviously gives us a little bit deeper lineup," McClendon said. "Endy and Jones have been doing a good job up top and it makes sense."
Saunders was hitting .265 with four home runs, 23 RBIs and a .429 slugging percentage when he went on the disabled list June 11 with inflammation in his shoulder after feeling some tightness while swinging the bat. He hit .450 (9-for-20) with two doubles, a triple, a home run and seven RBIs in five games for Tacoma during his rehab stint.
"I was just looking to see some pitches when I first got out there and as I got more comfortable, I got more aggressive," Saunders said. "I'm just looking to keep the same approach up here."
To make room on the 25-man roster, the Mariners optioned designated hitter/first baseman Jesus Montero to Tacoma. The 24-year-old hit .286 (4-for-14) with a home run in five games for the Mariners. He batted .270 with an .800 OPS, eight homers and 40 RBIs in 59 games for the Rainiers before his promotion to Seattle on June 12.
Saunders spent the minimum time on the disabled list, but said he's 100 percent healthy and ready to roll.
"There was a point last year that was a crucial learning experience for me," he said. "Coming back from the same injury -- mind you, it was a little worse last year -- but I felt I might have come back a little too early, before I was ready. So going down early enough and getting five games and 15-20 at-bats made me trust it. Something I learned with rehab is usually the last 5-10 percent is trusting you are healthy and it's hard to really let things go and play the way you normally do after you've hurt something. So I was able to do that without any limitations and I wouldn't be here today if I wasn't ready."
The Mariners have deemed their two other rehabbing position players -- first baseman Justin Smoak and designated hitter Corey Hart -- to not be ready yet. Though both are now eligible to come off the DL, they stayed with Tacoma on its current trip to El Paso, Texas.
"We're just trying to get them to 100 percent," McClendon said. "Not 80 percent. 100 percent. And they're getting there."
Smoak is recovering from a strained quad muscle in his left leg that landed him in the DL on June 10, while Hart is on the mend from a strained left hamstring that has sidelined him for five weeks.