Joe Saunders only wants to start, but he’s not a good starter

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Joe Saunders is on the disabled list with an ankle injury and when he’s ready to return the Rangers may not have a rotation spot for him. That means the veteran left-hander could shift to the bullpen except he’s very much against that idea, telling Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas:

For me it’s all about starting and helping this team win games as a starter. It’s what I signed to do and what they signed me to do.

Technically true, although in reality what the Rangers signed Saunders to do was provide some emergency rotation depth while a bunch of their starters were banged up and now that’s not really needed.

As for the whole “helping this team win games as a starter” thing, Saunders has a 5.35 ERA in 33 starts since the beginning of last season and a 4.42 ERA in 158 starts dating all the way back to 2009. Considering those numbers and his extreme lefty/righty splits a move to the bullpen might actually help prolong the 32-year-old southpaw’s career.

Mariners sweep A’s in two-game Japan Series

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The big news, of course, is Ichiro’s retirement. But there was a baseball game that counted today as well and the Mariners took it. Seattle beat Oakland 5-4 in 12 innings to sweep the two-game Japan Series.

Ichiro may have taken an 0-for-4 in his last game, but Ryon Healy and Mitch Haniger homered for the Mariners, staking Seattle to a 3-0 lead after three. The A’s picked up two in the fifth and Seattle added one via a Jay Bruce sac fly to make it 4-2 in the seventh. Oakland tied things back up, ultimately sending it to extras when Khris Davis singled in Matt Chapman in the seventh. Davis would blow a chance to put Oakland ahead in the 11th when he struck out with the bases loaded.

In the twelfth, Domingo Santana, who hit a grand slam in Seattle’s win in the opener on Wednesday, beat out a would-be double-play with the bases loaded to drive in the go-ahead and, ultimately, winning run.

The rebuilding Mariners are now 2-0 on the young year. The A’s, who won 97 games last year, are 0-2. Viva the smallest of sample sizes.