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Saunders part of Mariners' crowded outfield

KANSAS CITY -- Michael Saunders was back in the Mariners' starting lineup as the right fielder for Thursday's series finale against the Royals after coming off the bench in the previous two games.

Although Saunders has only played sporadically in recent days, manager Eric Wedge said that's simply a byproduct of trying to get playing time for a crowded outfield.

"I'd like to play everybody more than I am," Wedge said. "When you're balancing all these outfielders, it's a tough mix."

Wedge considers Saunders, 26, to be among a cluster of players who still have to prove they can be consistent at the Major League level.

"It's a fast food society. Everybody wants it yesterday," Wedge said. "You can make an argument that it has been one to three years and they should be there by now. Or you can make an argument that eventually they will get there.

"I think we've got a lot of guys who have a chance to be good ballplayers. I don't know if we have any superstars. That's probably a reach. But I think we have volume. We have more players who have a chance to be good, solid Major League players than maybe other organizations. That's what we're trying to develop."

Wedge mentioned Saunders and Dustin Ackley as two players who could figure prominently in the 2014 outfield picture.

"I think they are both capable of being everyday guys," Wedge said. "Can you lock and load on it right now? No. But do I think they can be everyday guys next year? I think they can."

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to
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