Everett AquaSox

Michael Saunders Honored by Baseball Canada

February 1, 2024 - Northwest League (NWL)
Everett AquaSox News Release

Heading into a fourth season of coaching since retiring as a player, former AquaSox Michael Saunders is thoroughly enjoying his second career, sharing the knowledge he accumulated over nine seasons with the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies.

"Don't be in a rush, understanding where your feet are and concentrating on that rather than thinking about where I want to get to," the former outfielder says of the advice he doles out as Atlanta's minor-league outfield and baserunning coordinator. "And this is a tough one, but trust in the process over the outcome. It's something I learned later on in my career that I tried to apply and (share now) if anybody ever asks me about it now that I'm on the other side of the ball."

Saunders' accomplishments, which include an all-star campaign with the Blue Jays in 2016 and a World Baseball Classic opening-round MVP honor in 2013, were recognized during Baseball Canada's annual awards banquet Saturday with selection to the organization's Wall of Excellence.

The 37-year-old from Victoria is the 12th player to receive the honor, joining Larry Walker, Justin Morneau and Russell Martin, among others, and it led him to reflect on his 14 years as a pro player and the journey there beforehand.

"My dad and I were talking about it: you play catch in the backyard when you're six years old and you never dream of this situation coming up because of that, right?" he says. "I'm very humbled and honored to be on that wall ... You take a look at some of the names up there and they're a lot more accomplished than I am. ... Your professional career goes by quick and here I am today."

The speed at which the years passed by - from an 11th-round pick by the Mariners in 2004 to Futures Game selection in 2007 with fellow Canadian Joey Votto, to Olympic team member in 2008 to big-league debut in 2009, to retirement after the 2019 season - is one of the key messages he imparts to players.

There is always urgency to improve, to perform, to seize opportunity, but Saunders also cautions against chasing results, knowing how easily that can become a damaging detour from growth and success.

Not being in a rush, he explains, is knowing that during a period of struggle, a player shouldn't "try to dig my way out of that hole within a game."

"Like, if you're hitting .200, you're not going to hit .300 after today," he continues. "It's going to be a process. That's what I mean by trusting the process over the outcome. Baseball is a funny game. You can do everything right, hit the ball right on the barrel right at somebody, you're 0-for-1. Pitcher makes great pitch, breaks your bat, you bloop one over third base for a double. So you can't get too high. Can't get too low. But I believe that if you have a solid routine and you trust the process, good things will happen."

The Mariners selected Saunders in the 11th round of the 2004 MLB draft. He then spent the 2005 season with the Everett AquaSox of the Short Season-A Northwest League, hitting .270 with seven home runs and 39 runs batted in (RBI).

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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