HOUSTON -- Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders played catch for a second straight day Tuesday and continued taking batting practice as he worked to return from a sprained shoulder that has him on the disabled list until at least Friday.
Saunders' situation takes on a little more urgency with Franklin Gutierrez placed on the 15-day DL on Tuesday, leaving the Mariners with only veteran Endy Chavez as an experienced center fielder.
"It's feeling better," Saunders said prior to Tuesday's game with the Astros. "Yesterday I threw 60 feet. I went a little further today and was able to put a little more on it. There's still a feeling of a little discomfort, but it's encouraging that I'm able to get out there and do it. That's the important thing."
Saunders said his batting practices have also improved. While he is still keeping two hands on the bat all the way through his swing to lessen the strain on his shoulder, he is starting to see improvement.
"I saw some carry on the ball, and it was coming off my bat a little better; so that was very encouraging," he said. "I'm still finishing with two hands, but the swing actually feels pretty good. I know as the days go on, it'll get more flexible. It might be one of those things where in a game your competitive nature takes over and you take a hard cut and let go of the bat with your top hand and finish one-handed. But for now in BP, I'll continue to finish with two hands and get my confidence back up that way."
Manager Eric Wedge said Saunders was improving daily and that the team would monitor Saunders' progress carefully before making a decision on when to activate him and whether he would need a short Minor League rehab stint.
"We'll address that when the time comes," Saunders said. "For now, I'm just concentrating on trying to get to that point. I feel like it's around the corner. I'm definitely getting close. It depends on the situation. If that's what is best for me and the team, I'll go down and do it. If I can get back in right away, I'll do that, too."
With Gutierrez on DL, Mariners add Peguero
HOUSTON -- With newly injured Franklin Gutierrez joining Michael Saunders on the disabled list Tuesday, the Mariners recalled Carlos Peguero from Triple-A Tacoma to bolster their outfield situation.
Peguero, 26, was hitting .246 with two home runs, 14 RBIs and a .351 on-base percentage in 17 games with Tacoma.
Gutierrez will have an MRI test when the team returns to Seattle on Thursday, and manager Eric Wedge said no timeline could be put on his recovery until then.
The 2010 Gold Glove outfielder is making his fifth trip to the disabled list in the past three seasons. He played only 132 games combined in 2011-12 because of a stomach disorder, a strained oblique, a torn pectoral muscle and a concussion. Now he is out with a hamstring strain after diving for a bloop single in the fourth inning of Monday's 7-1 win over the Astros.
"There's been players that have been snake bit before, and I do think he's one of the most unlucky guys I've had the fortune of being around," Wedge said. "But everybody has tried everything under the sun to help him be on the field more.
"Whether it's body type or bad luck or whatever it may be. He's playing center field and having to react to every ball; there's a lot to be said for that. There's nothing that hasn't been looked at with him, and it's just unfortunate. I feel bad for him and for us."
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Peguero is not a candidate to play center field, but he can fill a backup corner-outfield spot. Peguero has hit .191 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs in 63 games in limited duty with Seattle over the previous two years.
Endy Chavez will handle the bulk of center-field duties, with Jason Bay available as a backup option until Saunders returns. Bay has played 38 games in center field in his Major League career, but none since 2005 while with the Pirates. He did play two games there this spring in Cactus League games for the Mariners.
Saunders is eligible to come off the 15-day DL on Friday.
Peguero has been working on better patience at the plate and has drawn 11 walks in his 17 games in Tacoma. He would just like an opportunity to show what he has been working on.
"Each of the times I've come up and been sent back down, it's something to learn," Peguero said. "It's just understanding what I have to do as a player, understanding why they're bringing me here and what kind of player I am and show them that I'm learning each and every day."
"He's been working hard on being more disciplined and not chasing outside of the zone and being willing to take those walks," Wedge said. "As big and strong as he is, he does scare people up there. If you chase, it kind of defeats the purpose. But he has been better with that."
Seager surging after slow start
HOUSTON -- The low point for Kyle Seager was midway through a game against the Rangers on April 11 when he lined out to center field, dropping his batting average to .135 after a stretch where had just one hit in 30 at-bats.
But the Mariners third baseman singled his next time up, and since then he has ripped off a 12-game hitting streak. Since his 1-for-30 slump, he is 17-for-42 (.405) to lift his overall average to .278 after Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Astros.
Seager, 25, said he realized he needed to start using his legs and lower half more in his swing, which freed up his hands and gave him "more space" at the plate. The results have been impressive, with a Major League-leading 10 doubles through Monday, as well homers in consecutive games Sunday and Monday.
"I'm just trying to maintain it," Seager said. "I'm still just trying to continue the adjustment I made and trying to stay consistent with it. Just swing at the good pitches and all that stuff."
Manager Eric Wedge said Seager's ability to analyze and correct his own swing was one of the things that separated him from other young prospects, though it took him much of the spring to get squared away.
"It's funny because I never really felt Kyle got going all spring and even early on this year," Wedge said. "Whereas I felt like pretty much everybody else to the man had everything going. It's just the irony of baseball where Seager comes out of it first and everybody else crashes and burns for a while. Now I hope everybody is on the rebound, and I think we are."
• Top catching prospect Mike Zunino went 2-for-3 with a double and four RBIs in Tacoma's 13-11 loss at Salt Lake on Monday. He is now batting .412 (14-for-34) with five home runs and 24 RBIs on the road, while 0-for-20 at home. Zunino did not play in Tuesday afternoon's 2-1 victory.
• When Felix Hernandez recorded his 100th victory Monday, he became the sixth-youngest player to reach that milestone since 1969. Dwight Gooden did it at 24, Bert Blyleven at 25 and Fernando Valenzuela, Vida Blue and Don Gullett at 26. Hernandez hit the mark 14 days after his 27th birthday.
• Hernandez's career ERA in April is now 2.66, the lowest among any active Major League starter and fifth-lowest of any starter since 1946.
• The Mariners' 7-1 victory Monday was their first win against the Astros since June 23, 2002, a span of 3,965 days.