Saunders feels at home with Mariners

THURSDAY, FEB. 14, 2013


PEORIA, Ariz. – The Seattle Mariners could use an experienced No. 2 or 3 starter in the rotation that is headlined by Felix Hernandez, and left-hander Joe Saunders hopes to be that dependable arm.

Saunders agreed on a one-year contract with the Mariners on Tuesday that could be worth up to $16.5 million over two years if he reaches all his bonuses, and he got right to work Wednesday.

“You look at who’s the No. 1 guy, and I guess they’ve got a pretty decent No. 1 guy here, so everybody kind of falls in after that guy,” an understated Saunders said of Hernandez. “He’s going to be the No. 1 and then we’ll have other guys fighting for the other spots.”

Acquired by Baltimore from the Arizona Diamondbacks in August, Saunders was the starter – and winner – in the Orioles’ one-game wild-card playoff against the Texas Rangers.

Saunders says he turned down several other offers to sign with the Mariners because he liked the direction the organization is headed.

Saunders, 31, is no stranger to Safeco Field, having spent his first 41/2 years in the big leagues with the A.L. West rival Los Angeles Angels.

“It’s just a thing about where do I want to pitch, what’s the ideal location, what’s the easiest for your family,” he said. “It was pretty much an easy decision for me.”

Kelley traded to Yankees

The New York Yankees have added depth to their bullpen, acquiring right-hander Shawn Kelley from the Mariners for minor league outfielder Abraham Almonte. The teams announced the trade Wednesday night.

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