Former Mariners starting pitcher Joe Saunders is returning to the club on a minor league contract to bid for a job in the bullpen, MLB.com reported Friday. Saunders, 33, was 11-16 with a 5.26 ERA in 32 starts for Seattle in 2013.
Saunders must pass a physical. Pitchers and catchers reported Friday, with first workouts Saturday.
Saunders, a starter most of his 10-year major league career, was 0-5 with a 6.70 ERA in 14 appearances (eight starts) with the Rangers and Orioles last year.
“He’s experienced and when you look at his numbers, he’s been a pretty effective pitcher against left-handed hitters and that’s exactly what we’re looking for,” GM Jack Zduriencik told the website. “We’ve talked about creating some competition for another left-handed spot. Joe Beimel‘s not back, so it creates an opening. We have a lot of candidates and we’ll let them compete.”
Left-handed hitters had a .616 OPS against him last year, compared to 1.143 by right handers. For his career, the OPS is .617 vs. lefties and .836 vs. righties.