Mendoza Line no more: Michael Saunders has 18 hits in his last 8 games

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As recently as two weeks ago Michael Saunders appeared to be in danger of playing himself out of the Mariners’ plans. He was hitting .226, had a career batting average under .200, and remained an everyday player largely due to the Mariners not having better options in center field.

And then something clicked for Saunders in a big way. He went 3-for-5 against the Rangers on May 29, notched three more hits the next day, had four hits two games later, tallied another three hits Tuesday, and kept rolling last night by going 3-for-5 versus the Angels.

Add it all up and Saunders went 18-for-36 (.500) with two homers and five doubles in an eight-game stretch, producing at least three hits in five of those games. To put that in some context, Saunders didn’t have three hits in any of his first 48 games this season and managed three hits just once in 58 games last season.

Eight games are only eight games, obviously, but Saunders’ minor-league track record always suggested he was capable of developing into a solid hitter and at age 25 he might finally be on track. And right now he’s the only Mariners hitter with an OPS above .800. His OPS eight days ago? .691.

Padres reportedly interested in J.T. Realmuto

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LAS VEGAS — Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Padres have “genuine interest” in Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto.

The Mets have been the most frequently mentioned suitor for Realmuto’s services, but over the weekend a report emerged that that their talks with Miami had lost some momentum, so perhaps that creates an opening for some other teams. For their part, the Padres have a loaded farm system which may interest the Marlins a great deal, even if they’ve publicly said they want major league talent for their best player. San Diego’s interest in Realmuto is obviously, of course. He’s probably the best catcher in the game at the moment. If, as some suspect, the Padres are poised to turn the corner into competitiveness in 2019, Realmuto could play a key role in that.

Realmuto, who will be 28 on Opening Day, hit .277/.340/.484 with 21 homers last year, which earned him both All-Star and Silver Slugger honors. He’s also one of the best defensive catchers in the game. It’d take a haul of talent to get him, but he is easily the most appealing position player on the trading block this offseason.