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8/6/2014 9:25 P.M. ET

Saunders to begin rehab with Triple-A Tacoma

SEATTLE -- Mariners right fielder Michael Saunders will begin a Minor League rehab stint on Thursday with Triple-A Tacoma as he returns from a strained oblique muscle in his left side that has sidelined him the past three weeks.

Tacoma is off on Wednesday, but Saunders will join the team as it opens a five-game homestand against Fresno on Thursday night at Cheney Stadium.

The 27-year-old was put through the paces in the outfield on Tuesday and was deemed ready to return to action.

"I passed all the tests, now it's time to speed it up and get in game situations," said Saunders. "You can't emulate that, so that will be the true test. I'll DH [on Thursday], then get back in the field the following day and we'll take it from there. We have a tentative schedule, so hopefully I can get ready as soon as possible and be ready to come back up."

Saunders made the last road trip with the Mariners so he could work out with the team. He acknowledged the process has been tough as he's watched his club from the sidelines.

"It's very tough to watch from the bench and see the guys out there playing and busting their butts trying to get W's while you're just sitting back watching, feeling like I'm missing out," Saunders said. "Since they're in the hunt right now, I almost feel like I'm letting the team down by being on the DL. So I'm very excited to get the clearance to go down and start my rehab and look forward to getting back up."

The Mariners added outfielders Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia since Saunders went on the 15-day DL, so it remains to be seen how things will shake out when he's ready to return. The current outfield consists of Dustin Ackley in left, Jackson in center and Denorfia and Endy Chavez splitting time in right field.

McClendon said Saunders will need to show he's ready before the question of where he fits in works out. The six-year veteran has hit .276 with six home runs and 28 RBIs in 65 games this season.

"Obviously, it depends on his physical capabilities and how he bounces back," McClendon said of Saunders' timetable. "But with hitters, you've got to be swinging good. I don't want you wasting at-bats here."

As for where Saunders will fit in?

"We only have 25 spots," McClendon said. "But it always works itself out."

Taylor's terrific play announces defensive presence

SEATTLE -- Chris Taylor has been playing and hitting well in the two weeks since the Mariners called up the rookie shortstop for his Major League debut.

But Taylor's "now you're a big leaguer" moment may have come in Tuesday's 4-2 victory over the Braves, when he made a great diving stop and threw out speedy leadoff hitter Emilio Bonifacio for the final out in Felix Hernandez's eight-inning gem at Safeco Field.

Hernandez saluted Taylor with a loud shout and animated exchange as they came off the field to let the 23-year-old from Virginia know how much he appreciated the support.

"That felt great," Taylor said. "The way Felix was throwing, having a great game ... he's picked us up so many times, so to be able to pick him up on that play was awesome."

Taylor was regarded as a strong defender coming up in the Minors, and that play certainly backed up his reputation.

"I don't know if people realize how good that play was last night," manager Lloyd McClendon said prior to Wednesday's series finale. "You can put Bonificio up against anybody as far as running. That guy can get down the line. That was a heckuva play."

"It was just a reaction play," said Taylor. "I knew he was quick, so anything you dive on you have to just pop up and throw it because he flies down the line."

The King's reaction was pretty good, too, as he headed to the dugout with a four-hit night over eight innings en route to his 12th win of the season.

"That was unbelievable," Hernandez said. "With Bonifacio running, he's fast. That was a great play."

Taylor posted a .357 average in his first nine games and was back in the lineup for Wednesday's series finale against the Braves, even against right-handed starter Julio Teheran. McClendon said the youngster will continue getting more playing time than Brad Miller, who held the starting job for the first four months, but he is hitting .199.

"[Taylor's] performing well," McClendon said. "He's swinging the bat well and playing solid defense. Brad will get in there from time to time, but right now Taylor is going to play a lot."

Bloomquist likely won't be ready to return soon

SEATTLE -- Mariners utility infielder Willie Bloomquist met with doctors on Wednesday, and manager Lloyd McClendon said he'd know more on Thursday about the veteran's situation as he recovers from a bruised right knee that has sidelined him since July 23.

"It's not good," McClendon said after Wednesday's 7-3 victory over the Braves. "He's getting a second opinion. There's a chance he may have to do something to get it taken care of. He just has not progressed to the point where we think he'll be ready anytime soon."

McClendon said the option is likely either for extended rest or arthroscopic surgery.

Bloomquist, 36, signed a two-year deal with Seattle prior to this season. He's hit .278 with one home run and 14 RBIs in 47 games this season.

Worth noting

• McClendon said tests on Corey Hart's knee showed no structural damage, so the veteran designated hitter will stay off his legs for the next few days and then begin strengthening them so he can start swinging a bat again and progress toward a rehab stint.

• Seattle's starting pitchers allowed two or fewer runs in 49 games this season, the most in the Majors. The A's are second with 45. Seattle was 37-12 in those games.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.