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8/29/2014 10:39 P.M. ET

After battling infection, Saunders works out at Safeco

SEATTLE -- Right fielder Michael Saunders returned to Safeco Field on Friday for an on-field workout and said he's feeling healthier after recovering from a viral infection he got while on paternity leave for the birth of his daughter.

He also revealed he caught the viral infection, Fifth Disease, from his daughter.

It caused him to lose 12 pounds. He said he wouldn't wish the infection "on his worst enemy."

"It was like the flu on steroids, plus arthritis," he added.

While he was sick, Saunders didn't eat for four or five days, but tried to stay hydrated.

"I was in pretty rough condition there, but I've turned a page for the better now and am definitely working my way back," he said.

Last weekend, Saunders was officially recalled from his Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma.

He said he's slowly regaining his appetite and energy, but there's no current timetable for when he might return to the big leagues. He still needs to regain his strength, according to general manager Jack Zduriencik.

"This is what I said to him today, 'Michael we would love to have you here, we want you here, but we also want Michael Saunders here,'" Zduriencik said. "'We don't want 70 percent of Michael Saunders or 80 percent of Michael Saunders.'"

On Friday, Saunders hit in the cage and played catch a few hours before the Mariners opened a three-game series against the Nationals.

Saunders, 27, was hitting .276 with six home runs and 28 RBIs in 65 games for the Mariners when he went on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain July 11.

Jones returns to Mariners; Ramirez optioned

SEATTLE -- The Mariners optioned pitcher Erasmo Ramirez to Triple-A Tacoma on Friday and recalled outfielder James Jones.

Ramirez, 24, allowed 10 runs and lasted just three innings Wednesday against the Rangers after being recalled for a spot start, as the Mariners fell, 12-4. In six stints with Seattle this season, Ramirez went 1-6 with a 5.21 ERA in 14 starts.

Jones is being recalled to the big leagues for the fourth time in 2014. In 83 games with the Mariners, he is hitting .256 with eight doubles, four triples and 20 stolen bases in 21 attempts. In 37 games with Tacoma, he hit .282 with six doubles, two home runs and 15 RBIs.

"He'll be in a supporting role. There's an opportunity for him to get the job done," said Mariners interim manager Trent Jewett. "You know him. Great energy. Great student. He'll be a nice addition to the ball club."

Worth noting

• Jewett will manage the Mariners on Friday and Saturday night while manager Lloyd McClendon is in Indiana attending his daughter's wedding. Coincidentally, Jewett will manage against his former team. He spent the past three seasons with the Nationals, becoming the third-base coach in 2013 after spending 2012 and part of 2011 as the first-base coach.

Jewett interviewed for the managing vacancy last offseason before the club hired current manager Matt Williams.

• Left-handed rookie Roenis Elias will flip turns in the rotation with veteran right-hander Chris Young, the Mariners announced Friday. That means Elias will start Saturday night against the Nationals and Young will start Monday against the Athletics. Each will be working on extended rest because the Mariners were off on Thursday and they recalled Ramirez for Wednesday's spot start.

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