Despite experiencing career-high statistics this Major League Baseball season, Seattle Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders knows he is capable of much more.
No, I wasnt satisfied, the Victoria native said over the phone from Denver, where he resides during the off-season. However, I do know I made some strides in the right direction.
You never feel like youve secured a spot. Its a mentality you bring every season, stressed the
25-year-old former member of the Victoria Mariners. If you start feeling comfortable that could drive you in the opposite way that you want to go. You can never get content. There is always someone in the minors looking for your job.
Describing his 2012 season as a rebuild from ground zero and attempting to cement himself as a regular player, Saunders already sounded hungry for the 2013 campaign.
I saw signs of success and what I have to do now is make it more consistent. This season was like laying down a foundation, he explained. Im always hungry and Im not satisfied at all. I know I have a lot more in the tank. I want to come back next year, ready to go. I know theres a lot more in there. Its more like Im just scratching the surface.
Saunders finished with a career-high 19 home runs and 57 runs batted in for the Mariners. He finished with 31 doubles, three triples, 21 stolen bases and hit .247 in 139 games played.
The highs came from getting a chance to play, he said.
A groin injury kept him out for a short part of the season, but the six-foot-four, 220-pound speedster played all three outfield positions during the year and also hit in every slot in the lineup, except the coveted four-hole.
I want to cement myself in the middle of the lineup, said Saunders, who was planning to get back to working out this month.
His strikeouts were high at 132 on the season.
It comes with learning, he said. I know if I can get my strikeouts down and put the ball in play it will make people more happy. I swing to do damage and thats my main goal ... Im not worried about my strikeouts.
Plans are also in place to shorten up the outfield fences upwards of 17 feet at different points in left field at Safeco Field in Seattle, which will help all hitters.
Its notoriously known as a pitchers park, said Saunders. Which makes it tough to bring in free-agent hitters. At the same time, its cold, the park is on the ocean and its damp so the ball doesnt travel as much.
In the meantime, Saunders and his wife Jessica who reside in the Denver area are taking time and enjoying the recent birth of their first child, a daughter, in late September.
Theyre both healthy and happy, said Saunders, who didnt want to share the babys name for privacy reasons, but he is planning to visit Victoria in January.
I want her to meet my side of the family, said the Lambrick Park grad.
And there could be an invite to represent Canada at the World Baseball Classic set for March of 2013.
If I was asked I would feel honoured to represent my country, playing with that Maple Leaf on the uniform, he said. Although, I always feel that I am competing for a job in Seattle, so I would run it by them. Its always a lot of fun wearing your countrys name across your chest.
© Copyright 2013