Members of the Seattle Mariners celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 12-5 at Safeco Field on May 12, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
by Curtis Crabtree
SAFECO FIELD - Michael Saunders continues to improve and will be available if needed tonight for the Seattle Mariners against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Saunders suffered a hyper-extended knee Saturday night against the Kansas City Royals and has been limited to just one pinch-hit appearance the last two games.
Manager Lloyd McClendon said Saunders continues to improve and would be available to play if necessary tonight. However, McClendon said he'd prefer to let Saunders continue to rest the injury until the team heads to Minnesota this weekend.
Saunders is not in the lineup but would be available in a reserve role.
In an odd quirk, tonight's game is the first time Tampa Bay starter David Price has pitched at Safeco Field. Despite being in his sixth full season in the majors, Price has faced the Mariners just once, earning a no-decision last August in a 5-4 Tampa Bay victory.
The Mariners are the only team in the American League that Price has not earned a winning decision against.
Price will face off against Hisashi Iwakuma for Seattle.
Iwakuma has earned the victory in each of his first two starts since coming off the disabled list on May 3.
In his last outing against the Royals, Iwakuma held Kansas City to just four hits over eight innings and didn't allow a run. He also had seven strikeouts.