It’s been around five weeks since Mariner outfielder Mitch Haniger went down with a strained oblique, a blow that at the time looked like a death blow to the struggling team.
Ben Gamel and Guillermo Heredia were able to step up and lessen the blow, but the Mariners are itching to get Haniger back and the outfielder is feeling good.
“I’m still working through some stuff, but I haven’t been in pain,” Haniger said. “It hasn’t felt completely normal like before the injury, but with every injury I’ve ever had it never feels normal for a while but the most important thing is to not feel pain.”
Being a smart player though, Haniger knows there are things he has to do to make sure he doesn’t re-aggravate his injury. Haniger has DH’ed twice, and also played in right field during Wednesday’s game.
“I’ve tried to do more stuff in between at-bats, and stretching and moving around in the outfield just to make sure I’m staying loose, but besides that there’s not a whole lot of things I do differently.”
The injury was not only a letdown for the Mariners, but also for Haniger who was enjoying a terrific start to the season with his new club. The rookie outfielder was slashing .342/.447/.608 with four home runs and 16 RBI in 79 AB’s. Haniger was one of a few bright spots on what had been a dismal Mariners offense at that point. That has changed though, and the Mariners are red hot having won of nine of their last ten games, and getting a huge boost from the bottom of their lineup.
“I just gotta focus on my game when I get back,” Haniger added. “I have high expectations for myself and I really think my expectations for myself exceed everyone else’s, so if I prove myself right I think everyone else will be happy but I can’t really control what people think. It’s been awesome watching the team play well and it’s felt like I’ve been out a long time. It’s been about five or six weeks but it’s felt like more than that for me. I can’t wait to get up there and the teams been playing awesome, and watching the game last night (Mike Zunino Walkoff Grand Slam) fired me up and the guys have been playing really well so I’m looking forward to getting back there.
As for when he’s back, there’s still some uncertainty as to when Haniger will be back up with the Mariners, though the belief is it could be as soon as this weekend for the Mariners series against Toronto.
“I think after the next one or two games I’ll probably have a phone call about everything and talk about how I feel and see what they think and figure it out,” he said. “I’m real excited to get back and help the team win and do what I can and just being a good teammate. But yeah I’m just looking forward to helping the team win and doing my part to contribute.”