Warning – the following story may result in Canadiana overload. It involves the Canadian beat writer for Canada’s second favorite team (no, not the Red Sox or the Yankees, the Mariners! So harmless! So much teal! It’s a natural fit) stating his belief that Canadian outfielder Michael Saunders must receive regular playing time. All ahead of Canada’s lone baseball franchise making its annual visit to the Pacific Northwest! This article only needs some quiet condescension and a few superfluous “u’s” to complete the Canuck circle.

Xenophobic rooting interests aside, native Montrealer and Seattle Times columnist Geoff Baker is absolutely right when he says the Mariners must give Victoria’s Michael Saunders consistent playing time during the 2011 season.

As Baker notes, this season is already one for growth and development in Seattle. It is in the Mariners best interests to determine exactly what kind of a player Michael Saunders can be at the big league level. Despite giving more playing time to the well-traveled Ryan Langerhans and the enigmatic Milton Bradley, M’s skipper Eric Wedge recognizes the need for Michael Saunders to get regular at bats if he is to realize his (seemingly vast) potential.

“You want to try to keep getting him in there,” he said after Sunday’s game. “It was a good day for Michael. He’s been working really hard with his swing and his new approach and mindset and the mechanics of all that as well. It was nice to see him punch one. Obviously, he’s very athletic in the outfield as well.”

Understandably, the Mariners aren’t quite sure what they have in Michael Saunders. His initial ascent through the minor leagues saw him display both patience and power, though he is yet to display much of either at the big league level.

Not unlike local Seattle kid-come-Blue Jays outfield project Travis Snider, 2011 is the season in which the teams must simply get out of the way. Send them out to play, health permitting, 140 times and make a much more informed decision as to their future with the club.

If the swing changes and lineup adjustments bring positive results, all the better. If Saunders is unable to shake the dreaded “quad-A” label after 500 plate appearances of middling results…the Mariners can move on to address one of the half dozen other holes and question marks in their lineup.