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Originally published June 6, 2012 at 10:52 PM | Page modified June 6, 2012 at 10:54 PM

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Michael Saunders' new approach pays off | Mariners notes

Mariners center fielder Michael Saunders has a few ideas about why he's been so successful against left-handed pitching this season. In short, it's all...

Seattle Times staff reporter

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Mariners center fielder Michael Saunders has a few ideas about why he's been so successful against left-handed pitching this season.

In short, it's all related to the new approach he's taken against all pitchers. Saunders had struggled against southpaws in the big leagues, but entered Wednesday's series finale hitting .288 with a .351 on-base percentage and a .538 slugging percentage when facing left-handers this season.

"I think I'm staying aggressive, which has allowed me to see the ball," he said. "I feel like I'm keeping my hands back and am able to see the opposite field. Which is where I've struggled the last couple of years. I think I was having more of a pull mindset, which was causing a lot of things to not allow me to have success against lefties.

"Because typically you're going to see soft stuff away, hard stuff in to get you off those off-speeds a little bit. So, I'm staying through the ball a lot better and my approach is to use the big part of the field up the middle."

Saunders improved some of his stats against right-handers on Wednesday when he had two singles his first two at-bats facing Jerome Williams of the Angels. Saunders came into the game batting .261 with a .335 on-base percentage and a .428 slugging percentage versus righties.

"He's done a real nice job with that," Wedge said of Saunders hitting lefties. "And the big part about that is he's not giving them ground. And he's hitting with confidence whether he's against right-handers or left-handers."

Note

• Wedge was talking in the dugout when Felix Hernandez jogged by and flashed a two-thumbs-up sign after playing catch. Hernandez was letting Wedge know he was OK and ready to play catch again at Safeco Field during Thursday's off-day for the team.

In a best-case scenario, Hernandez could start again on Sunday. If not, Wedge is prepared to push him back until at least Tuesday.

"I think he's going to be fine," Wedge said. "It's just a matter of, we're going to work off of him and how he feels. I know he wants to pitch as soon as we can, but we'll have to wait and see just how he feels after he plays catch.

"And that's what I told him. I said 'Listen, we're not going to hold you back. If you wake up Friday and you feel completely normal and you're good to go, then we'll put a more specific plan together. But if there's any uncertainty, we've got some options with the off-day tomorrow and the off-day on Monday.' "

For the record: W-L: 26-33 PCT: .441 Streak: W1 Home: 9-13 Road: 17-20 vs.AL West:12-12 vs. L.A.: 2-5 vs. Oakland: 5-2 vs. Texas: 5-5 vs. AL East: 2-10 vs. AL Cent: 9-11 vs. NL: 3-0 vs. LHP: 7-9 vs. RHP: 19-24 Day: 8-12 Night: 18-21 One-run: 5-8 Extra inngs: 3-2

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