SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge said outfielder Michael Saunders (shoulder sprain) could head out for a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma as early as Friday and begin designated hitting.
Saunders was batting .286 with a home run and five RBIs before he injured his right shoulder after crashing into a wall while making a catch against the Astros on April 9.
"He felt good today," Wedge said. "We'll just take it day by day."
Ryan trying to stay positive through struggles
SEATTLE -- Brendan Ryan said he's not happy about losing his starting job at shortstop for the Mariners, but he understands.
So as fiery and competitive as he can be on the field, when he got the news in a meeting with manager Eric Wedge and the man who's taking his job for now, Robert Andino, he didn't argue.
"If anything, I feel apologetic," Ryan said in the Mariners clubhouse at Safeco Field before Thursday night's game against the Angels. "I'm not playing to my ability, period. And I think what's frustrated the skipper is that I [should] still remain positive through [my slump], and I've gotten a little bit down on myself.
"You don't want that to become infectious or anything like that. So I have to tell myself to keep my chin up and not get too down on myself and things will turn. I really feel like they're going to turn. I know they will."
So far, Ryan is batting .143 (8-for-56) with two RBIs. He said lately he's been doing what he's supposed to do in regards to being selective at the plate, but he's not hitting his pitches with the authority he needs. He said he's working hard with hitting coach Dave Hansen, and he's almost there.
As for the meeting, he said he was not surprised that it went down the way it did.
"It wasn't the most fun sitdown, you know?" Ryan said. "But we're trying to win. It's different. It's not like it's a development year. We've got the pieces in here to compete. My numbers are what they are. It's not good in any league. So it's a chance to step back and just kind of get things right.
"I don't think I'm asked to hit .350 here or anything like that. I just have to get back to having competitive at-bats and I think I'm inching my way closer. [Wedge] feels like it's been long enough, so it's time to get somebody else in there and help us win. That's all."
Morse says broken finger isn't reason for slump
SEATTLE -- Michael Morse conceded that he's not fully recovered from a fractured right little finger, but he said the injury has little to do with the fact that he's slumped of late and is batting .231 with 24 strikeouts.
"It's not an excuse or anything," Morse said. "I'm not producing because of me, not my finger. I don't look for excuses."
On Thursday night, Mariners manager Eric Wedge gave Morse a night off, starting Jason Bay in left field and recent callup Carlos Peguero in right.
"We felt like from yesterday morning to tomorrow night is the greatest amount of time we can give him to try to help it improve," Wedge said. "He still feels it, but it's improving. It's going to take some time."
Morse pointed out that he usually begins seasons slowly. This year, he's already got six home runs and 10 RBIs.
"I already have career records in April for everything I've done," Morse said with a smile. "I look at it like I'm having a good April."
Guti's recovery likely to take 2-3 weeks
SEATTLE -- Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez underwent an MRI exam on Thursday that revealed a Grade 1 (minor) strain to his right hamstring.
"It's tough to put a timetable on it, but it's probably two or three weeks," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
Gutierrez is batting .259 with four home runs and was tied for the team lead in RBIs (10) heading into Thursday's action.
• Over the Mariners' last 11 games prior to Thursday, Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak combined to hit .345 (41-for-119) with 11 doubles, three homers and nine RBIs. Seager hit .410 (16-for-39) over that span with six doubles, two homers and six RBIs. Ackley hit .341 (14-for-41) over that span with three doubles and Smoak hit .282 (11-for-39) with two doubles, a homer and five walks.
• Seager extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a single in the fourth inning on Thursday. It's a career-high and the longest current hit streak in the Majors and third-longest this season.
• Closer Tom Wilhelmsen had not allowed a run in his last seven innings entering Thursday.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.