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Mariners close to sending Saunders on rehab stint

SEATTLE -- Right fielder Michael Saunders took part in Tuesday's pregame outfield work and batting practice with the Mariners and is close to being sent out on a Minor League rehab stint to Triple-A Tacoma as he recovers from a strained left oblique.

Saunders has been sidelined since July 10 and is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list as soon as he's healthy. That now seems imminent as the six-year veteran appeared to be throwing full out during Tuesday's work, though manager Lloyd McClendon was awaiting word from the trainers.

"My hope is that Michael will be able to go out on Thursday," McClendon said. "That's my hope. Most likely DH [initially], but there's a possibility he could play in the field. We'll see."

Tacoma is off on Wednesday, then opens a five-game homestand against Fresno before hitting the road again.

Veteran utility player Willie Bloomquist was scheduled to meet with doctors Tuesday as he continues recovering from a bruised right knee that put him on the 15-day DL on July 24, while designated hitter Corey Hart returned to Seattle with the club after going on the DL on Saturday and will begin treatment on his own right knee bruise.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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