SEATTLE -- Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders is getting closer to coming back from the sprained right shoulder that has kept him on the disabled list since April 10.
Saunders started his rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on Friday in Las Vegas, and Seattle manager Eric Wedge said it's possible Saunders could rejoin the Mariners on Monday.
"That'd be the earliest," Wedge said. "We have to see how he feels tonight, see how he feels tomorrow."
Wedge said the best-case scenario would be for Saunders, who was the designated hitter on Friday, to DH again on Saturday and play the field Sunday before joining the Mariners at Safeco Field on Monday to play the Baltimore Orioles.
Saunders can't get back soon enough, Wedge said.
"His attitude has always been that way," Wedge said. "From the day we told him he was going to go on the DL. ... He's anxious to get back. He came in last night before he left. He's anxious to play, period."
Saunders was batting .286 with a home run, a double, a triple, five RBIs and three stolen bases before going on the DL.
"He took huge strides last year, and even coming into this year, he just kept going," Wedge said. "Both on and off the field for me. There's a lot of strength and personality there. There's leadership qualities there. There's a lot to like with Michael Saunders."
No. 2 prospect Hultzen injures shoulder
SEATTLE -- The Mariners' top left-handed pitching prospect is injured.
Danny Hultzen, Seattle's No. 2 prospect behind right-hander Taijuan Walker, was scratched from his start for Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday, and on Friday it was announced that Hultzen has a left rotator cuff strain and tendinitis.
Hultzen will rest his shoulder and undergo regular treatment and rehab and is expected to miss two weeks. Hultzen, 23, is 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA. He has struck out 25 batters in 22 2/3 innings while walking six and has not allowed more than two earned runs in any game.
Chavez enjoying second stay in Seattle
SEATTLE -- Endy Chavez has come seriously full circle with the Mariners.
The first time the veteran outfielder was with the club, in 2009, he tore a ligament in his knee in June and missed the rest of the season. At the time, he was helping the Mariners with a .273 average, nine stolen bases and excellent defense. A little over a month later, a 22-year-old from Triple-A named Michael Saunders was called up to the Majors and got some time in the outfield.
This year, the Mariners added Chavez as a Minor League signing at the end of Spring Training, and when Saunders went on the disabled list with a sprained right shoulder on April 10, the team called on Chavez. Once again, he's helping the team.
Entering Friday's game against the Angels, Chavez was batting .310 with three RBIs, two doubles and his usual solid defense. He said it's been great to return to the organization.
"I always liked it here," said Chavez, who knew current Mariners Felix Hernandez, Franklin Gutierrez, Michael Morse and Saunders from his time here in 2009 and in Spring Training that year. "They gave me an opportunity to play that year, and they're giving me an opportunity now, and I'm doing my best to help them win.
"It's kind of funny that it's worked out this way, but that's baseball."
Montero heating up at the plate
SEATTLE -- Jesus Montero wasn't in the starting lineup on Friday night as the Mariners continue to find sporadic rest days for regulars in the midst of a stretch of 30 games in 31 days, but the second-year catcher is doing a better job at the plate of late.
Montero hit in five consecutive games, going 7-for-19 (.368) with a double, a home run and four RBIs after an 0-for-13 streak and has lifted his season batting average to .208 after a frigid start.
"I'm getting more comfortable at the plate," Montero said. "I'm starting to feel better, trying to hit the ball hard. It's not easy to get out of a slump, but I'm working hard at it."
Montero spoke to a reporter while flashing fingernails on his right hand that he had freshly painted orange -- a trick he learned so pitchers can see his signs. It was a lesson learned the hard way.
"One time in Double-A I called for a curveball, but the pitcher couldn't see the signs and thought I called for a fastball, and I got crossed up and broke a finger," Montero said. "Never again."
Montero says it isn't always orange. Sometimes he'll color them white, sometimes green.
"Anything so they can see it," he said.
• Jason Bay led off for the Mariners on Friday, the first time the outfielder has batted leadoff in his career, a span of 1,227 games.
"Jason sees a lot of pitches. He has pretty good pitch recognition. He's an experienced guy," Wedge said. "We did it a little bit in Spring Training, and that's why you do those things in Spring Training, so when it does happen here, it isn't the first time we've done it."
• Second baseman Dustin Ackley got Friday night off despite the fact that he is 13-for-34 (.382) in his past nine games.
"It's a good day for him to have off," Wedge said. "We're still picking days off for people. This stretch, don't forget … we're still in the middle of a 30 [games in] 31 [days] stretch. That's about as real as it gets. So it's a good day for him to have off."
• Third baseman Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to 15 games on Friday. It's the longest active streak in the American League.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.