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8/17/2014 7:04 P.M. ET

McClendon won't rush Saunders' rehab

DETROIT -- With the Mariners in the thick of the American League Wild Card race, sitting 10 games above .500 entering Sunday, manager Lloyd McClendon doesn't want to do anything to potentially disrupt what his team has going for it.

That's part of the reason why he's not chomping at the bit to have right fielder Michael Saunders rejoin the club. Saunders is back on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma after a few days away from baseball for paternity leave.

"Will it upset your apple cart [when Saunders comes back]?" McClendon wondered. "I don't know. I don't have that answer."

McClendon said Saunders' rehab assignment essentially got a restart when he left for paternity leave. He has 11 plate appearances in two games since getting back. That's not enough, according to McClendon. He'd like to see about 20 at-bats from Saunders.

"Most hitters, they think they can go down and get three games' worth of at-bats and say, 'I'm ready to play,'" McClendon said. "I don't know anybody that can be ready in three games."

McClendon isn't interested in seeing Saunders come back before he's ready and then struggle to get his timing down against big league pitching.

"Don't waste games here," McClendon said. "It's too important. We've got to win them here. We ain't here to get timing down. We're here to win."

Jones optioned to Triple-A

DETROIT -- After Sunday afternoon's game, the Mariners optioned the contract of outfielder James Jones to Triple-A Tacoma.

The move was to make room for left-hander Roenis Elias on the roster. Elias, who is currently with Tacoma, is expected to start Monday night's game in Philadelphia.

Jones played sparingly in his latest stint with the Mariners, going 0-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI while being used as a pinch-runner and late-inning defensive replacement in four games. For the season, he's hit .257 with a team-leading 20 stolen bases in 82 games.

Worth noting

Austin Jackson got some home cooking during his return to Comerica Park this weekend -- literally.

A few hours before Sunday's series finale against the Tigers, Victor Martinez's son, Victor Jr., brought breakfast quesadillas from the home clubhouse over to the former Tigers center fielder.

Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.