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Recent numbers would suggest playing Michael Saunders as much as possible.

The Mariners outfielder has been hitting .378 his past 10 games with 10 RBI, primarily at the No. 2 spot in the order. Yet Saunders found himself out of the lineup Wednesday.

Manager Lloyd McClendon explained: “I was taught this a long time ago: The most important thing you can do as a manager is know your personnel, know what makes them tick, know what makes them good and know what can hurt them. …

“In this sense, I know it’s right to keep him rested when I can keep him rested so he can continue to climb that ladder.”

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Saunders, who suffered a minor knee injury earlier this month, said whether starting or not, his mindset doesn’t change. But that doesn’t mean the idea of having to sit out once every four or five games — as McClendon suggested might be the case — is necessarily appealing.

“I don’t want days off,” he said. “I want to be playing every day. I want to contribute.”

“That’s good,” said McClendon, who noted that he has settled on this approach having watched Saunders the past few months.

“I want him to feel that way. … It’s my job to analyze; it’s their job to play.”


• The Mariners announced the signing of free agent Xavier Nady to a minor-league contract Wednesday, as had been expected. The 35-year-old veteran, who was released by San Diego in April, can play first base, outfield and designated hitter. He is in Peoria, Ariz., working out at extended spring training ahead of a hopeful move to AAA Tacoma.

• McClendon said he doesn’t expect pitcher James Paxton, who has been shut down due to shoulder inflammation, will need longer than 10 days to start working his way back into the rotation. The right-hander will still need to make one or two rehab starts.

Said Paxton: “It’s tough when you get that close to being back and you have something hold you back a little bit. I just have to take it one day a time.”

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