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Saunders on his spring, expectations for the Mariners

Mariners left-hander Joe Saunders has always been one to have slow springs. However, he's never read much into those numbers.

And with good reason.

Saunders finished Spring Training with a 1-1 record and an 11.57 ERA in four Cactus League games after signing a one-year deal with Seattle in the offseason. Yet, just last year with the D-backs, he went 1-2 with a 7.98 ERA in five spring games and then tallied a 2-1 record and 0.90 ERA in four April starts.

"It's nice to get out of Spring Training and get into the real games. It's always nice to get through healthy and ready to go," Saunders said. "My arm feels good, so it was definitely a good Spring Training in that respect."

Saunders will make his debut with the Mariners on Wednesday in Oakland as the team goes for its third straight win against the A's to open the season.

Back in the American League West, where he pitched four years with the Angels, Saunders is 13-5 with a 3.39 ERA in 20 career starts against the A's. However, he doesn't see that as any advantage.

"Nowadays teams change so much. This is a totally different club. I don't even know if they have anybody left since I pitched against them in 2008 or '09," Saunders said. "It's the same locker room, same clubhouse, same field, different players. So you have to go with the times and evolve."

One of Oakland's biggest changes, especially for Wednesday's game, will be the addition of Chris Young, who's expected to make his first start with the A's. Second baseman Scott Sizemore, catcher Derek Norris and first baseman Nate Freiman, who bat from the right side like Young, are also expected to join him in the lineup against Saunders.

"You want them to get involved, don't want them sitting around too long," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Guys are used to playing every day coming out of spring. Especially for the role guys, guys that aren't starting all the time. Whether it's just against righties or just against lefties, they need to get in there soon after spring's done."

Left-hander Tommy Milone will be on the hill for the A's, looking to continue his winning ways. Milone finished 2012 with a 13-10 record and 3.74 ERA. He also led the team in innings pitched with 190.

The workhorse led the team in wins and innings pitched during Spring Training, tallying a record of 3-0 with a 4.63 ERA in 23 1/3 frames.

Mariners: Gutierrez out of lineup

• Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez didn't start on Tuesday against right-hander Jarrod Parker, but will be back in the lineup on Wednesday against Milone.

Manager Eric Wedge wanted to get Raul Ibanez in the lineup on Tuesday against the righty and said he'd try to get all his bench players time early in the season to keep them fresh coming out of camp.

"We do want to make sure we take care of Guti early on," Wedge said. "That's part of it. But the fact of the matter is, you still have to find a way to get Raul in the lineup. So it works both ways."

A's: Colon tabbed for Saturday start in Houston

• The A's will bring back right-hander Bartolo Colon for Saturday's game against the Astros. That marks the first day he is eligible to return from his 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

"You want to get him started sooner than later," Melvin said. "We would've had to find another place for him to go pitch, and we just want to get him in there. We had targeted this all along."

Once Colon is officially back on the 25-man roster, right-hander Dan Straily -- scheduled to start Friday -- is expected to be optioned to Triple-A Sacramento.

Worth noting
• The average age on the A's Opening Day roster is 28.03 years, which according to Stats, Inc., is the youngest roster in the American League and the second-youngest in the Majors behind Atlanta (27.79).

• Wedge became the first manager in Mariners history to win his first three Opening Days and is now tied for second with Darrell Johnson (3-1) for the most Opening Day wins overall. Lou Piniella tops that list with five (5-5). Comments