SEATTLE -- As part of Major League Baseball's Mother's Day festivities and to raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer, the Mariners named Donna Person-Smith their honorary bat girl and let her throw out the first pitch to Taijaun Walker before Sunday's game.
Three years ago, Person-Smith was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 43. A few months later, her mother, Carla Person was diagnosed, too.
With their family and a stadium of sun-drenched fans watching Sunday, both women walked to the mound arm-in-arm before Person-Smith tossed out the first pitch. Person-Smith still takes daily doses of tamoxifen to prevent cancer from returning by blocking estrogen receptors of breast cancer cells.
She said she was fortunate that her cancer was detected while it was still in Stage 1. After a double mastectomy, she's been cancer-free going on three years. Her mother, Carla is cancer-free as well.
"I tell myself that I'm one of the lucky ones," she said. "It's just great to be here today to celebrate this with my mother, but also because we're both breast cancer survivors."
Walker, Paxton each throw bullpen session Sunday
SEATTLE -- Rehabbing pitchers Taijuan Walker (shoulder inflammation) and James Paxton (lat strain) threw bullpen sessions at Safeco Field on Sunday morning before the Mariners series finale against the Royals.
For Walker, it marked the first time pitching off a mound since he complained of a stiff shoulder, then was scratched from a rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma in the middle of April.
On Sunday, he threw 25 pitches at about three-quarters strength and said everything felt normal. He is scheduled for another bullpen session Wednesday after throwing only fastballs and a few changeups in his first session.
"I will start mixing in curveballs and it will be about 35 pitches or so," he said.
Walker, 21, has been rehabbing or resting from pretty much the outset of Spring Training after inflammation was discovered in his right throwing shoulder in late February.
"I'm concerned about the guys I have," manager Lloyd McClendon said, "not about the guys I don't have. So until they're part of this 25-man roster I'm not concerning myself with it.
"When they can throw out on that mound and throw 60 feet, 6 inches, I'm concerned about them."
Meanwhile, Paxton threw 40 pitches off a mound -- fastballs, curveballs and changeups -- with about 80 to 85 percent intensity. The plan for him is to throw a 55-pitch bullpen on Wednesday and then go from there.
Paxton hasn't appeared in a game since injuring his left lat muscle in the Mariners home opener April 8. In two starts this season, the 25-year-old lefty is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings.
"It kinda sucks," he said about sitting out. "It does feel like a while, but it's nice with the team in town and being able to watch the games and being a part of that."
Saunders day-to-day with hyperextended knee
SEATTLE -- Outfielder Michael Saunders sported some white bandaging wrapped around his left knee Sunday after hyperextending it in Saturday's win over Kansas City.
On Sunday, he was out of the lineup, but officially listed as day-to-day. Saunders said it felt better than he thought it would and he could pinch-hit if called on.
"It's a little sore, a little swollen. But it's nothing that's going to hinder me for any significant time," he said.
Saunders is hitting .222 (18-for-81) with one home run and seven RBIs
"I just hit a loose patch and my cleats kind of came up from underneath me and I lost my stability," he said of the injury. "I knew when I got up I could feel my knee a little bit … luckily there's no sign of any ligament damage or anything like that."
Saunders entered Sunday's game to pinch-hit for Stefen Romero in the eighth and struck out.
Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.