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Saunders thriving in leadoff role

OAKLAND -- Seattle has a new leadoff man.

Rookie Abraham Almonte began the season as the starting center fielder and No. 1 hitter for manager Lloyd McClendon, but Michael Saunders has taken over the role lately with sterling results. In his first eight games as the leadoff man this year, Saunders has batted .343 (11-for-32), while the team is 6-2 in those contests.

So does McClendon think those two things are connected?

"Sure," the skipper said. "I said it [Tuesday] -- you don't argue with success and you certainly don't mess with it. He's done a nice job for whatever the reason is, I don't know what it is. But he's done a nice job and he'll stay there."

Though Saunders went 0-for-4 in Tuesday's 8-3 win over the A's, he played a big role in the four-run ninth-inning rally. Saunders laid down a nice bunt in front of Oakland reliever Jim Johnson and moved to second after the errant throw to first went into the outfield. The floodgates opened from there as Saunders and three more of his teammates touched home to put the game out of reach.

Saunders spent the start of the season batting anywhere from fourth to eighth, but said he hasn't changed his approach at the plate as the leadoff man.

"Not trying to do too much," Saunders said. "I'm seeing the ball well right now and when I do get a good pitch to hit, I feel like I'm putting a good swing on it."

Alex Espinoza is an associate reporter for
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