SEATTLE -- It's not surprising that Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley got a day off Thursday, given he's hit just .100 (3-for-30) over the first 10 games of the season. Yet it was a little unexpected that he'd be sitting against a right-handed rookie starter in Justin Grimm of the Rangers.
But manager Eric Wedge said the young left-handed-hitting second baseman needed a day to regroup.
"Obviously, he's one of the guys we've got to get going," Wedge said. "So we're giving him a day. It'll be a chance for him to have a good workday and then we'll go from there."
Veteran infielder Robert Andino got the start in Ackley's place. Ackley has started eight of the first 10 games, but has just a .182 on-base percentage and has yet to have an extra-base hit.
The Rangers are coming with four straight right-handed starters in the series, but Wedge said that didn't factor into his decision to pick Thursday to sit.
"It's just what I feel like he needs, quite frankly," Wedge said. "And I want to continue to get Robert in there. He's been ramping up better in regard to his at-bats. He's worked hard this spring to be a more consistent player. I think he deserves to play."
Mariners place OF Saunders on 15-day DL
SEATTLE -- Michael Saunders was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday with a sprained right shoulder after colliding with the outfield wall at Safeco Field in Wednesday's 8-3 loss to the Astros. But the Mariners right fielder said things could have been worse and he expects to be back soon.
The Mariners selected veteran outfielder Endy Chavez from Triple-A Tacoma before Thursday's game with the Rangers to take Saunders' place. Right-handed pitcher D.J. Mitchell was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Chavez.
"When I hit the wall and fell over, everything kind of went numb," Saunders said of his first-inning catch of a drive by Jose Altuve. "My initial reaction, I thought I [broke] my collarbone. I definitely thought something was wrong. However, out of a bad situation, it was the best-case scenario.
"We'll have to wait for the inflammation to go down, and as soon as it does, we'll get to work on it. I'll bust my butt to get back in there. It's not a serious injury, so that's encouraging. But it certainly is going to be a couple days."
Manager Eric Wedge was a little more cautious, saying there was no question Saunders needed to be put on the disabled list.
"It's going to be a couple weeks, at least," Wedge said. "Trust me, he did not want to go on the DL. He's got that hockey mentality. But we've got to do what's best for him and the ballclub."
Franklin Gutierrez will continue to get occasional days off in center field even in Saunders' absence, with Chavez filling in as needed. Wedge said he was leaning toward using Gutierrez as the leadoff man against both left- and right-handers when he is in the lineup.
Chavez, 35, is an 11-year veteran and career .269 hitter who played for Seattle in 2009 before suffering a serious knee injury. He's a capable center fielder, but the Mariners will miss Saunders' presence both at the top of the order and in the outfield.
"The toughest part of any injury is not being able to be on the field and help the club," Saunders said. "But I'll throw the pom-poms on and be a good cheerleader for a while. And I'll work hard to get back on that field as soon as possible."
As for the play where he got hurt?
"If I could do it all over again, I'd do the exact same thing," Saunders said. "As an outfielder, I'm out there to make the catch. I'm not pulling up because of the wall. I knew I could catch it.
"At the last second, I kind of reached out. I guess I did put myself in harm's way, but if I'm going to go down it's going to be because I play aggressively and that's going to be how I go about my career. I'm not going to shy away from the wall. If I can make the play, I'll do my best to make it."
LaFromboise still reveling in Majors debut
SEATTLE -- Nearly a full 24 hours after his Major League debut, Bobby LaFromboise still couldn't hold back a smile when talking about his 1-2-3 ninth-inning outing in Wednesday's 8-3 loss to the Astros.
The 26-year-old from Downey, Calif., struck out the first two batters he faced, Chris Carter and Carlos Pena, after falling behind Carter 3-1.
"It was a huge relief," LaFromboise said of the initial out. "I was just trying not to walk him, to be honest. The adrenaline was getting to me, but I was just trying to throw strikes. To get the first one was unbelievable.
"You can't really exhale, because the next guy was Pena, but the whole goal is to get lefties out and prove I can do it. I think I took a first step in that."
LaFromboise was an eighth-round Draft pick of the Mariners in 2008 and reached Triple-A Tacoma at midseason last year, going 5-2 with a 1.59 ERA in 27 appearances. How about getting to the Majors at this point in his career?
"It's a huge dream," LaFromboise said. "I've been dreaming about this since I was 5. And my parents know it, so that's why it made it so amazing to tell them."
LaFromboise's father, a tire salesman in Los Angeles, tried to attend all his games growing up and flew in Thursday and will be at the rest of the Rangers series this weekend. That naturally was his first phone call after Wednesday's debut, once his heart stopped racing.
"I walked around the clubhouse for an hour," he said, "then I got back to my room and was walking back and forth in there for about another hour, talking to my dad and just saying, 'Wow, I did it.'"
Manager Eric Wedge liked what he saw from the initial outing.
"Real impressive," said Wedge. "He throws the first couple balls, then he comes right back with the fastball down at the knees for a strike and just kept going from there. Like I've said so many times, you're just not sure what you're going to get with a first time out, but he was very impressive."
• The Mariners hit 14 home runs in their first 10 games, something that took them 20 games to do last year. They totaled five long balls in their first 10 outings in 2012.
• A scoring change made after Wednesday's game took an error away from center fielder Franklin Gutierrez on a third-inning ball that now goes as a double for Houston's Jason Castro. Blake Beavan now will be charged with five earned runs and 10 hits.
• Backup catcher Kelly Shoppach threw out his first attempted basestealer on Wednesday. Since 2011, Shoppach has thrown out 29-of-86 basestealers, with his 32.6 percent rate the sixth-best in baseball for catchers with at least 100 games.