Haniger took a 95 mph fastball off his mouth and nose area from Mets' starter Jacob deGrom.
Mitch Haniger didn’t have enough time to react let alone get out of the way.
In a scary moment at Safeco Field on Saturday in Seattle’s 3-2 win, the Mariners’ rookie outfielder was struck in the face by a wayward fastball from Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom.
With one out and Nelson Cruz on third and Kyle Seager on second in the second inning, Haniger was trying to give the Mariners their first runs of the game against the hard-throwing Mets’ starter. After strikes on the first two pitches, deGrom threw a 95 mph fastball that rode up and in on Haniger. The ball struck him in the mouth, knocking him to the ground. It left deGrom visibly shaken on the mound.
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“Yeah, definitely,” deGrom said. “You never want to hit anybody in the face. It’s not easy to pitch after you do that. Trying to go inside there and it just sailed on me. Definitely feel bad about it. It’s not easy to stay out there and re-concentrate.”
Athletic trainers Rick Griffin and Rob Nodine and manager Scott Servais rushed from the dugout to attend to Haniger, who was bleeding heavily from the mouth.
After a few moments, Haniger got up and with a towel being held on his bleeding mouth, he walked off the field with the aid of Griffin and Nodine. He was replaced by Guillermo Heredia.
Jarrod Dyson was standing in the on deck circle when it happened.
“It was very tough,” he said. “Don’t want to see it happen to anybody, let alone Mitch. He’s been great for us all year. He’s a big piece to this puzzle. I just hope he gets well soon because we are going to need that guy.”
The Mariners later announced Haniger left the game with a mouth contusion and was fully alert. He was taken offsite for further examination. Meanwhile, deGrom was able to still pitch seven innings for the Mets.
“I just think knowing that it wasn’t on purpose and you’re trying to go inside and one got away from me,” he said. “But it’s not easy to forget about it. I don’t know how I thought about it today.”
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said postgame that Haniger will have to undergo some form of plastic surgery to repair the damage because his lip was severely lacerated by the ball on impact.
“There are no fractures and his teeth are okay, but he had a pretty severe laceration on that upper lip and he’s getting some work done on it now,” Servais said. “It could have been a lot worse. It got away from deGrom. Obviously, he’s got a great arm. Mitch, I don’t think he ever saw it. But he was never unconscious or anything like that. When I got out there, he was talking. You hate to see that happen to anybody. Obviously he’ll be out for a little while.”
Haniger is headed for the 10-day disabled list. The Mariners didn’t announced the corresponding move postgame, but sources confirmed that outfielder Leonys Martin will be brought up from Class AAA Tacoma to rejoin the team.
Since Martin is no longer on the 40-man roster after being designated for assignment and outrighted to Tacoma in late April, the Mariners will have to open up a space on the 40-man. Right-hander Cody Martin, who was just added to the 40-man a few days ago, could be designated for assignment to make room.
Leonys Martin made the opening day roster as the starting center fielder and struggled so much early in the season that the Mariners were forced to make a move. He was hitting .111 with a .302 on-base plus slugging percentage and 14 strikeouts in 15 games. The struggles were a product of offseason swing changes that never quite worked and an inability to return to his old form quickly. But he has been able to fix some things with the Rainiers. In 84 games, he’s hitting .312 with an .858 OPS, 24 doubles, five triples, 11 homers and 39 runs batted in.
Right-hander reliever Shae Simmons (flexor strain in the elbow) threw a 30-pitch bullpen before the game. Simmons, who has been on the disabled list since spring training, was pulled off his rehab stint with Class AAA Tacoma after feeling some tightness in his throwing shoulder. The issue with the shoulder was new and unexpected. He was on the verge of returning to the Mariners’ bullpen with a few more healthy outings on his rehab assignment.
“That’s what bothers me about it, I was so close to coming back,” Simmons said. “It’ll work out eventually. I was pretty excited. Hopefully I can just get healthy at some point and be able to be productive for the team in whatever role or situation that might be. We’ve got a good club with a chance to make the playoffs.”
Simmons hopes he can resume his rehab stint soon. The 30 pitches were at about 80 percent effort. He’ll have to throw another bullpen again before heading out.
“Hopefully by the end of next week I’m back in games,” he said. “That’s the plan. We’ll see how it goes. Things can always change, but if everything goes well, I could get out of here next week and start throwing again.”