SEATTLE — Michael Saunders initial fear was he that he’d broken a collarbone after crashing into the outfield wall.
“I definitely thought something was wrong,” the Seattle outfielder said Thursday. “However out of a bad situation this was the best case and the best outcome that could have happened.”
Saunders was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a sprained AC joint of his right shoulder.
Saunders was hurt Wednesday night in the first inning against Houston when he slammed into the right-field wall catching leadoff hitter Jose Altuve’s fly ball. Saunders said his arm went numb after hitting the padded wall at full speed and was immediately worried about his collarbone.
He was relieved that it was simply a shoulder sprain that didn’t cause any damage to a previous surgery in 2008 to repair his shoulder.
“I guess I did put myself in harm’s way, but if I’m going to go down, I’m going to go down aggressively,” Saunders said. “That’s how I’m going to go throughout my career. I’m not going to shy away from the wall and if I can make the play I’m going to do my best to make the play.”
To take his roster spot, the Mariners selected outfielder Endy Chavez from Triple-A Tacoma and designated for assignment pitcher D.J. Mitchell to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. Saunders fought the idea of going on the disabled list, but was likely to be sidelined for a couple of weeks recovering from the injury.
“It’s going to be a couple weeks at least so we had to put him on the DL, and trust me he didn’t want to go on the DL. He’s got that hockey player mentality,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “But we had to do what’s best for him and what’s best for the ball club. So that’s why we had to make a move.”
Saunders was off to one of the better on the Mariners roster. He was hitting.286 with one double, one triple, one home run and five RBIs.
Chavez was Seattle’s opening day starter in left field in 2009, but had his season cut short by a serious knee injury. He was signed this spring by the Mariners to a minor-league deal March 24 after being released by Kansas City. In six games at Tacoma, Chavez was hitting .429. Chavez will be used at all three outfield positions, and Jason Bay is likely to see additional time in the field until Saunders returns.