Saunders makes catch, hits wall, suffers injury

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.comApril 11, 2013 

Seattle – Michael Saunders’ start in right field Wednesday night lasted four pitches. He caught diminutive Jose Altuve’s leadoff drive to right when he reached up his left hand over his head and banged into the wall simultaneously with his right shoulder. Saunders went down and lay on his back on the warning track for several minutes.

Manager Eric Wedge and trainer Rick Griffin ran out to check on him. Saunders walked off with his right arm tight to his body and was initially diagnosed with a sprained right shoulder. He will be re-examined by team medical director Dr. Edward Khalfayan and will miss “some time,” according to the Mariners.

Saunders had been hitting leadoff or second to start the season and had a seven-game hitting streak. Possible candidates from Tacoma to replace him are Endy Chavez, Eric Thames or Carlos Peguero.

RELIEF FROM TACOMA

Reliever Bobby LaFromboise took a call from

Tacoma manager Daren Brown around 12:15 a.m. Wednesday before making one of his own.

Brown summoned LaFromboise from his crowded hotel room — he was hanging out with teammates on the road in Sacramento — to tell him the Mariners were calling him up.

LaFromboise said he doesn’t follow possible roster machinations much, so he was surprised. He headed back to his room and hopped onto his cellphone.

“I made one phone call; it was just to my dad,” LaFromboise said. “I couldn’t get through it. Teared up. And then I had to talk to my mom, and that was worse, because it’s Mom. It was just a great feeling to be able to make that phone call to them, and say, ‘Hey, I made it.’”

Lucas Luetge was sent down to make room from LaFromboise, a sidearming, left-handed reliever. The Mariners needed bullpen depth after four relievers had to limp through Tuesday night’s 16-9 pounding by Houston.

LaFromboise was the Rainers’ pitcher of the year last season when he went 5-2 with four saves and a 1.59 ERA in 27 appearances.

The Mariners took a long look at him in the spring.

“We saw a lot of mental toughness,” Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis said. “A guy who has some deception. It’s unusual for a guy with an arm slot down low … to hide the ball from right-handers as well as left-handers, they just don’t seem to pick it up as well. He had a couple of tough situations he pitched in.”

Wednesday afternoon was LaFromboise’s first time in Safeco Field, which seemed like a 47,000-seat candy store to him.

“Walking up those steps, stepping onto that field, I was in awe,” LaFromboise said. “For my first time to be on the team was a big shock to me, but I’m on cloud nine right now.”

BLUE JAYS CLAIM WELLS

Outfielder Casper Wells was the last man cut by the Mariners in spring training, and he’s no longer part of the organization as a result.

Wells was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday. He was acquired by Seattle as part of the Doug Fister trade with Detroit in the middle of the 2011 season. That deal is progressively looking worse for the Mariners.

Seattle sent David Pauley and Fister to the Tigers for Wells, left-handed reliever Charlie Furbush, then-reliever Chance Ruffin and outfielder Francisco Martinez.

Furbush was very effective last season for the Mariners when he went 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA and 0.95 WHIP.

Seattle is trying to convert Ruffin into a starter. He’s 1-0 at Double-A Jackson. Martinez is hitting .133 at Jackson. Wells is out of the organization after hitting .225 in parts of two seasons.

Fister is 19-11 with a 3.00 ERA for Detroit, in addition to two postseason wins.

ON TAP

Felix Hernandez (1-1, 2.57 ERA) makes his home debut against Texas and Justin Grimm (season debut) tonight at 7:10. The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 710-AM.

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @Todd_Dybas

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