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Seattle's outfield grows weaker with another injury

SEATTLE -- The Mariners' ongoing struggle with injuries took a turn for the worse on Saturday, when recent callup Dustin Ackley sprained his left thumb while trying to dive for a ball in center field. Ackley recently transitioned from second base to the outfield and started just his second game in center.

With all the injuries, Seattle was forced to use pitcher Joe Saunders as a batter in the 11th inning of the Mariners' 5-3 loss to the Cubs. Outfielders Michael Morse and Franklin Gutierrez are each on the disabled list, while Michael Saunders also has an injured thumb.

Saunders was used as a pinch-runner on Saturday, which manager Eric Wedge said is all Saunders can handle right now. Saunders' thumb was injured on Friday, when Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo stepped on it when the outfielder dove back to the bag on a pickoff attempt.

"He couldn't hit, he couldn't do anything else, so we're hoping that he's going to come in and feel better," Wedge said. "Hopefully, he's available to us in some capacity tomorrow."

While Ackley will likely have to undergo X-rays, Wedge said that the converted outfielder should be ready to play soon.

"I think all things considered, we're going to be OK," Wedge said. "Sprained thumb, it'll probably be a couple days. We'll just have to see how he feels when he comes in tomorrow."

In the meantime, Endy Chavez will play center field for Seattle, with Jason Bay backing him up.

Jacob Thorpe is an associate reporter for
Read More: Seattle Mariners, Dustin Ackley