Saunders eyes return in Cincy against righties

Saunders eyes return in Cincy against righties

Saunders eyes return in Cincy against righties

ARLINGTON -- Michael Saunders has been limited mostly to pinch-running duties the past five days after having the fingernail on his right middle finger crushed when he got spiked diving back on a pickoff throw against the Cubs last Friday, but the Mariners outfielder has found ways to contribute.

Saunders scored a run as a pinch-runner Saturday, then got his first chance for an at-bat Tuesday in a late-inning appearance and drew a walk before he scored the go-ahead run on Kyle Seager's home run in the 10th.

"It's like riding a bike. First at-bat in a week," Saunders said with a grin prior to Thursday's series finale. "Seriously, it was great. Obviously any time we win a game it's great, especially coming here to Texas. We won the series yesterday and it's time to get greedy today and try to get the sweep."

Manager Eric Wedge said Saunders would be back in the lineup this weekend, when the Mariners face three straight right-handers in Cincinnati.

"We'll get him back in there [Friday]," Wedge said. "That's the plan right now. Obviously he was able to go up to home plate and put up a good at-bat yesterday. He's still not 100 percent, but he's a lot closer."

Saunders said his finger is still sore and the final step will be throwing the ball full-out from the outfield, which puts the most pressure on the middle digit. But he's eager to return to action.

"You don't realize how much you need something so small until you hurt it," he said. "To hurt my fingertip, it doesn't sound like anything that would cause too much trouble. But with what we do, our hands are everything, and it's made me realize how important your fingernail or fingertip really is.

"But at least I'm not completely man-down. I've been able to get out and pinch-run, and I got my first at-bat last night and felt good. So that's encouraging. And there are a lot or righties coming up, so I'm looking to get ready for Cincinnati."

Greg Johns is a reporter for 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.