Saunders, Thames both sidelined after Friday collision

Center fielder Michael Saunders and right fielder Eric Thames were both out of the lineup Saturday after the two collided on the final play of the Mariners’ 9-8 loss to the White Sox.

Saunders injured his groin muscle slightly as the two crashed together and was receiving treatment prior to Saturday night’s 4:10 p.m. PT game at U.S. Cellular Field.

“Thames is OK. Saunders has a little bit of groin,” manager Eric Wedge said. “When they hit out there, he kind of stuck and turned in a way that was kind of funky. He’ll be a game-time decision in regard to his availability. Eric is good to go, but they’ve got a lefty in there tonight so we’ve got our other guys in there.”

Chone Figgins got the start in center field, with Casper Wells in right field.

Thames said he could have played, though he was pretty banged up. He had the ball in his glove on Paul Konerko’s smash to the right-center field fence, but it popped loose as Saunders crashed into him just as they both reached the fence.

“My pride is a little hurt, but I’m alright,” he said. “Our heads are good, that’s the scariest part. My shoulder and legs are banged up, but it’s OK. I feel like I was in a car accident. It makes me respect the rugby guys a little more. But we’re good.”

Thames was still re-living the moment a day later, calling it “a tough pill to swallow.” He said he saw Saunders at the last second, but was committed at that point to making the play.

“I don’t want to say I expected it because we were both screaming, but we couldn’t hear each other,” Thames said. “I don’t know if he’s going to get it, so I have to go for it. Then he’s about two feet away, I caught it and next thing I know we’re on the ground face down and the ball is rolling toward second base. It happened so fast, but he got the brunt of it. It happened so fast, that’s all I can say.”

What hurt more was that Konerko passed the base runner who was tagging up at first and could have been called out for a double play if Thames had held onto the ball, which would have sent the game into extra innings tied at 8.

Here’s the full lineup Saturday:

Dustin Ackley 2B
Trayvon Robinson LF
Jesus Montero DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Justin Smoak 1B
Miguel Olivo C
Casper Wells RF
Chone Figgins CF
Brendan Ryan SS

Blake Beavan RHP

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