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Mariners reconfigure outfield against A's righty

OAKLAND -- With the Mariners facing A's right-hander Jarrod Parker in Tuesday's Game 2, manager Eric Wedge started lefty Raul Ibanez in the outfield in place of Franklin Gutierrez.

Michael Saunders shifted to center field, with Michael Morse in right and Ibanez in left. Wedge said the purpose was two-fold, as it gets Ibanez early playing time coming off a good spring and allows Gutierrez to ease into the season after dealing with some leg soreness in camp.

"We're going to continue to get everybody in there," Wedge said. "Guys did a nice job this spring and we want to make sure we don't give them too much time off. So we'll work to get all these guys in there and Raul is in there today."

Wedge said Gutierrez was fine after playing Monday's opener, but will be given regular days off initially to keep him healthy.

"We do want to make sure we take care of Guti early on," Wedge said. "That's part of it. But the fact of the matter is, you still have to find a way to get Raul in the lineup. So it works both ways. We'll get him back in there tomorrow and he'll be ready late in the game if we need him."

Saunders will lead off and play center field after batting second behind Gutierrez on Monday and playing right.

"There's a lot of versatility throughout the lineup, a lot of different players can hit anywhere," Saunders said. "I can't speak for the skipper, but I'm imagining that's a good thing to have. For now, it looks like Guti and I are at the top of the lineup and that's a good position to be in with the guys that are hitting right behind us.

"My job is to play my game, get on base, no matter where I'm at in the lineup. And that goes for fielding, too. More than likely I'll be playing all three positions throughout the course of the year. I'm not going to prepare any differently, but I'll definitely come in every day and always check the lineup."

Ibanez played 76 games in the outfield last year for the Yankees and showed Wedge this spring he can still play the position at age 40.

"He's a hard worker. I thought he did a nice job," Wedge said. "Obviously with Gutierrez on the bench, you've always got that option late in the ballgame. So that's something you have to look at. But he did a nice job. He's a pro and he's been doing it for a long time."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
Read More: Seattle Mariners, Raul Ibanez, Michael Saunders, Brendan Ryan, Stephen Pryor, Franklin Gutierrez