8/24/2014 1:28 P.M. ET
As Saunders leaves Tacoma, Hart arrives for rehab
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
BOSTON -- Mariners right fielder Michael Saunders was recalled from his Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday due to a viral infection and will not be able to rejoin the Rainiers for a minimum of five days, the club announced Sunday.
But Corey Hart, who has been sidelined since Aug. 1 with a bruised right knee, began his own rehab assignment with Tacoma on Saturday as he attempts to get healthy before the end of the regular season.
Saunders had missed the last three games with the illness after playing 10 games with Tacoma while working back from a strained right oblique.
"He's had a rough go," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He's been sick for a few days and he's still not back yet. Whenever he gets ready, we'll get him back out there."
Saunders remains on the 15-day disabled list with the Mariners and can resume his rehab assignment on Thursday with Tacoma if he's ready. Saunders has already spent 16 of his maximum 20 days on his rehab stint, so if he returned Thursday he'd potentially be able to play the last four games of Tacoma's season -- which ends Sept. 1 -- and then join the Mariners when rosters can be expanded in September.
Saunders hit .276 with six home runs and 28 RBIs in 65 games for Seattle, but since he went on the disabled list for a second time this season, the club has acquired veteran outfielders Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia.
Hart also has played some outfield this season, but mostly served as the club's designated hitter. He went 0-for-3 while playing DH on Saturday for Tacoma in his first game since going on the 15-day DL on Aug. 2. The former two-time National League All-Star acknowledged then he didn't have the necessary strength back in his legs as he was forced to play more outfield after the acquisition of designated hitter Kendrys Morales.
Hart missed all of last season with microfracture surgeries in both knees and has hit just .203 with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 58 games after signing a one-year deal with Seattle. It remains to be seen if the 32-year-old can get healthy enough to help the Mariners after rosters can be expanded the final month.
"He's back out there, we'll see what happens," McClendon said. "Right now, he should get 35-40 at-bats [with Tacoma], so we'll see."
McClendon does not expect many September callups
BOSTON -- While the Mariners have used September callups to give young players Major League exposure and experience in recent years, manager Lloyd McClendon doesn't see that happening this season when rosters can be expanded beyond the normal 25 in another week.
Seattle will definitely add some players, but only those who can contribute to the team as it makes a push for its first playoff berth since 2001.
"It's been my experience, particularly with teams with a chance to advance to the playoffs, you bring up guys that can help you win games," McClendon said Sunday. "I don't think you venture out too much into bringing young guys just to get them experience because there isn't going to be any experience to get.
"We're playing meaningful games and you want your veteran guys out there performing in high-level, high-pressure games. For me, I don't see bringing up a lot of young players just to get them experience."
As for the notion of youngsters benefiting just by being in the big league environment, even if they're not playing? McClendon doesn't buy that theory.
"I don't see how, other than just sitting on the bench and watching the speed of the game," he said. "The only way you gain and it becomes valuable is if you're competing, in my opinion. Just to sit and watch, I don't see how it helps much."
Thus it'll be interesting to see who the Mariners add once Tacoma's season ends on Sept. 1. Outfielder James Jones seems a certainty, given his speed could be a valuable asset off the bench in late-inning situations. First baseman Justin Smoak and outfielder Stefen Romero would provide depth at their positions, while outfielder Michael Saunders is an obvious addition once he gets healthy and Humberto Quintero is a possibility as an extra veteran catcher.
On the pitching side, Erasmo Ramirez and Taijuan Walker are potential additions if the club wants to carry an extra starter or have an extra arm in an already loaded eight-man bullpen.
Players must be on the 25-man roster or disabled list on Aug. 31 in order to be eligible for postseason play. However, players not on the 25-man roster or DL as of Aug. 31 can still be added to playoff rosters as replacements for a player who is on the DL and can't play, though only a position player can replace a position player or a pitcher be used to replace a pitcher in that scenario.
The Mariners currently have three position players on the DL in Willie Bloomquist, Corey Hart and Saunders.
Mariners to keep rotation in order after off-day
BOSTON -- With an off-day coming up Thursday, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said his club will keep his starters in rotation and not juggle anything as they've done in recent weeks in order to give every pitcher an extra day of rest.
With Roenis Elias, James Paxton and Felix Hernandez set to pitch the first three games of the upcoming homestand on Monday through Wednesday against the Rangers, that means the starters against the National League East-leading Nationals on Friday through Sunday will be Chris Young, Hisashi Iwakuma and Elias.
The Mariners then head to Oakland to open a seven-game road trip and will have Paxton, Hernandez and Young lined up to face the A's.
Seattle has only one remaining off-day after next week, on Thursday, Sept. 11. McClendon said the rotation could be changed up at that time with the extra day, but otherwise will stay in order.
• First baseman Logan Morrison was back in the lineup on Sunday after missing Saturday's game with an illness.
• The Mariners clinched a series win at Boston on Saturday and have now gone 10-6-1 on their last 17 road series. Seattle has a 36-26 record on the road going into Sunday's series finale, having already won more road games in any season since going 37-44 in 2009. The last time the Mariners finished a season with a winning road record was 2003 (43-38).
• When Dustin Ackley hit a three-run homer in Saturday's 7-3 win, he increased his RBI total to a career-best 53 for the season. Ackley finished last year with 50 RBIs.
• The Mariners are averaging 4.85 runs per game since the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, which ranks third in the Majors for August. They averaged 3.83 runs a game in the first four months of the season.