SEATTLE -- Michael Saunders had to watch from the bench for the final six contests of a seven-game road trip because of a strained right groin. But the Mariners are back home and Saunders returned to the lineup on Friday, hitting sixth and playing right field.
Unfortunately, he couldn't stay there. Saunders left the game against the Angels after the fourth inning and was replaced by Eric Thames. Manager Eric Wedge said he is day to day and would be evaluated Saturday morning.
Saunders appeared to favor his right groin after sprinting to his left to catch a line drive off of Torii Hunter's bat in the fourth inning. He walked gingerly back to his position and cautiously shook his right leg. Albert Pujols immediately followed with a single to right and Saunders fielded it without incident, although he appeared to still be favoring his groin.
"He went for that ball in the corner, made a nice catch, but I could tell that he was still feeling it a little bit," Wedge said. "It's nothing worse. The progress he's made, we still have that, but I didn't take an chances on it and have him make another play and reinjure it. So we got him out of there."
Saunders was originally injured during a collision with Thames in the outfield on Aug. 24 and didn't want to rush back and miss the rest of the season.
"He's been working hard to get back in there, so nice to get him back in there," Wedge said before the game. "Obviously, keep a close eye on him, but we feel confident he's ready to play."
The big worry with aggravating the injury was with quick, sudden movements. Saunders was be able to control that out of the batter's box, and admitted he'd be careful the first few steps. Chasing down balls in the outfield was the bigger issue, and that appeared to have been borne out.
A lifelong fan, Macklemore throws first pitch
SEATTLE -- Popular Seattle musician Macklemore stirred the emotions of Mariners fans a year ago by performing his passionate song, "My Oh My," before the team's 2011 home opener. The single celebrates the life and impact of Dave Niehaus, the longtime Mariners announcer, who had passed away during the previous offseason.
On Friday, Macklemore was back at Safeco Field with his DJ, Ryan Lewis, on a happier note. The duo celebrated the upcoming release of their debut album with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Fan Night, and Macklemore threw out the first pitch.
"I'm tripping out, the fact that I'm even in the dugout," he said. "We have a hat and I'm throwing out the first pitch. It's just exciting. I love this stadium, I love this team."
Macklemore grew up in Seattle and has been a lifetime fan of the team. Donning a Mariners jersey with his name on the back, it was evident how exciting Friday was for him.
"It was just a huge part of my childhood," Macklemore said. "Baseball was my favorite sport, [Ken] Griffey was my favorite athlete and it was a huge part of my upbringing. Baseball camp all summer long and Mariners games -- it was in the Kingdome back then -- but Mariners games were my favorite thing to do."
Rosters expanding, but no immediate callups
SEATTLE -- Major League teams are allowed to expand their rosters past 25 to 40 on Saturday, but don't expect the Mariners to make any additions right away.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said on Friday that "as of right now" the team was going to wait until the Minor League season ended on Monday to call up any players. Wedge did say that they "had a pretty good idea of what we're going to do," personnel wise.
"I'm not going to speculate further on it, we'll have to wait and see," Wedge said.
Current players with Triple-A Tacoma that have spent time with the Mariners this season include infielder Alex Liddi, outfielders Casper Wells and Carlos Peguero, starters Hector Noesi and Erasmo Ramirez and reliever Shawn Kelley. First baseman Mike Carp is also with Tacoma, rehabbing a hip injury.
The Mariners signed 16-year-old Dominican prospect Leurys Vargas on Friday. Vargas, who bats left-handed and throws righty, is a corner infielder listed at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds.
Reliever Shawn Kelley was hit in the elbow by a line drive while pitching for Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday, but Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he was playing catch on Friday and would pitch on Saturday if he felt OK. Kelley has spent the majority of the season with the Mariners.
Kyle Seager is hitting .310 (18-for-58) with seven runs, five home runs and 21 RBIs during the first inning.
Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.