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Michael Saunders Blames Neverending Prank For Batting Woes Thursday, May 5, 2011

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Photo courtesy zimbio.com

On the outside, Eric Wedge seems like a typical, no-nonsense manager on which baseball tradition has been founded.  His discussions with the media are meager when frustrated and to the quick when trying to induce change in his lineup.  But unknown to many outside of the Mariners’ clubhouse is a kiddish prankster gone awry.  Unfortunately, Michael Saunders is more familiar with the latter portrait of the first-time Mariners skipper.

“It started with the nickname,” Saunders explained in an exclusive interview Wednesday night after a 5-2 loss to Texas where Saunders struggled 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts.

While he wouldn’t reveal it, we found out from other players that “Colonel Saunders” was the unfortunate pseudonym to which the young outfielder eluded.

“But soon, I was greeted by buckets of chicken in front of my locker before every batting practice,” Saunders continued. “I would find mashed potatoes in my batting helmet.  My socks were being seasoned with 11 original herbs and spices.  I couldn’t even concentrate without smelling chicken somewhere.”

Hitting Coach Chris Chambliss noticed a change in Saunders’ demeanor not long after the season began.

“At first, I thought he was binging on his diet,” Chambliss told us.  “The kid was practically sweating fried chicken.  But eventually, he filled me in on the prank.  I think he could have fought past Wedge’s zany antics if it hadn’t gone to the next level.”

Saunders refused to elaborate, nearly breaking into tears at the question, but interviews with his teammates revealed a series of ongoing chicken-related abuses inside the clubhouse.  Live chickens were put in his hotel room on the road.  Boullion cubes were hidden in his water bottle.  During closed batting practice sessions, Wedge would throw buttered biscuits at Saunders’ head when he was trying to readjust his struggling swing.  And worst of all, Wedge wouldn’t even allow teammates to talk to Saunders after a while.

“A couple weeks ago, during that closed door meeting, Wedge issued an ultimatum declaring that none of us could talk to Saunders,” an anonymous teammate reported.  “Instead, we were only allowed to bawk at him like a chicken if he talked to us.  The guy was going nuts after the first day.  It’s too much for anyone to take.  I even heard he asked for a demotion to Tacoma the other day, but all Wedge would do is bawk at the poor guy.”

Wedge denied any knowledge of the situation when we confronted him this morning, but did treat us to a bucket of wings on our way out.  This reporter concludes that Saunders needs to stop making excuses and hit the frickin’ baseball.

New Rookies Realize Mariners Aren’t Minor League Team Friday, February 4, 2011

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Photo courtesy Seattle Times

Spring training is just days away from beginning for the Mariners in Peoria, and a number of young players look to be the focus of this year’s club, especially rookies Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda.  And despite a flood of local media attention on these two youngsters, both were surprised last week to receive a letter inviting them to train for a possible spot on a major league club.

“It was the major league part that confused me, ” Second-base convert and coveted prospect Ackley reported.  “I knew I was going to be competing for a spot higher than Tacoma, but I assumed Seattle was a minor league club, too.  High AA or something like that.”

Right-handed starter Pineda was just as confused.

“It was the letterhead that clued me in,” said Pineda through a club interpreter.  “I knew I was up for a spot in the rotation, but I wish they had told me it was for the majors!”

Both players were of course pleased and excited to have finally made it to “the show,” but this isn’t the first time a major league club has been confused with minor league teams, especially in Seattle.

“Ichiro was the clue in my case,” longtime bench player Michael Saunders said last year.  “I knew how good he was, and I hadn’t heard of a major league club keeping someone down that long, so I knew I must have made it, even if everyone else on the team was playing at my level.”

Even more confusion was had by Jack Wilson, who didn’t make such a realization until his second stint on the disable list last season.

“It was a little embarrassing, but it wasn’t until I checked my bank account that I realized the M’s were giving me millions of dollars instead of thousands,” Wilson confirmed.  “What was really embarrassing, though, is to realize all these years later that Pittsburgh is in the majors too.”

The Mariners also confirmed for this report that they have a stadium in south Seattle named Safeco Field that seats nearly 40,000 people, a membership in the MLB, and a budget of nearly 100 million dollars.