Could the Mariners and Mitch Haniger finally get a break (not a literal one) when it comes to his latest unfortunate injury?
As expected, the Mariners’ best hitter was out of the lineup for the homestand opener Monday against the Twins at T-Mobile Park.
Haniger suffered a bone bruise to his left knee in his first plate appearance in the victory Sunday in Cleveland when he fouled a 92-mph fastball off the inside of his knee. The impact knocked him to the ground and had him writhing in pain.
It was another in a line of unfortunate and fluke injuries that have plagued Haniger in his playing career.
Despite having to help Haniger off the field, along with trainer Taylor Bennett, Mariners manager Scott Servais seemed encouraged Monday about Haniger’s status.
“I just talked to Mitch,” Servais said in his pregame media session. “Mitch is doing better than I thought he would be doing today. He walked in with not much of a limp. But he is on the training table right now getting some treatment done. That left knee is pretty sore. He’s not gonna do probably any baseball activity today.”
So he could possibly avoid a stint on the 10-day injured list, which seemed like a given when the injury occurred?
“I am optimistic that we don’t have to put him on the 10-day IL,” Servais said. “But again, I don’t want to put any timetable on it. We’ll just wait and see how the player feels and how he progresses here over the next day or two.”
Instead, Servais provided the timetable that could roughly describe the status of any of his players or really any person.
“It’s truly day to day,” Servais said. “And we’ll see how he is tomorrow.”
Haniger has a .259/.310/.518 slash line with 15 doubles, a triple, 16 homers and 40 RBI in 274 plate appearances.
Sunday was Haniger’s 64th game, which is one more than he played in his 2019 season that ended June 6 when he fouled a 93-mph fastball from Justin Verlander into his groin, suffering a ruptured testicle. That injury would lead to multiple surgeries, including procedures to repair a torn adductor muscle and a herniated disk over the course of the next year, costing him the 2020 season.
The Mariners have been diligent in trying to keep Haniger healthy. Giving him “rest” days as a designated hitter and full days off from baseball activity.
“I think we’ve stayed true to what we said we were going to do leaving spring training,” Servais said. “He was going to get at least one DH day per week. And it’s probably turned into more than that per week. Over the last two or three weeks, it was maybe one DH game per series. That’s kind of how I’ve looked at it, depending on the matchups and how many outfielders we have healthy and active at the time dictates into that. Mitch does a heck of a job preparing every day trying to keep his body in a good spot so he can bounce back.”
Servais tries to let Haniger or any player know when they might have an off day or DH day ahead of time.
“The real key to it has been just communicating,” he said. “I probably text him more than any player, just in the morning, giving him an idea before I put a lineup out. Ask how he’s feeling, giving him maybe a voice in it, ‘You’re going to DH one of these games in this series. Here’s what I’m thinking.’ And I would say 99% of the time he’s in agreement with what I throw out there.”
*** The Mariners made a roster move Monday, recalling catcher Luis Torrens from Class AAA Tacoma and optioning right-hander Yohan Ramirez back to the Rainiers.
The Mariners already were playing with a short bench before Haniger’s injury. Calling up Torrens gives them an added bat. Because it wasn’t an injured list roster move, the Mariners couldn’t call up Dillon Thomas or Donovan Walton, who were optioned back to Tacoma earlier this week.
*** Seattle traded right-handed pitcher Yacksel Rios to the Red Sox for cash considerations. Rios, 27, was designated for assignment Friday. He appeared in three games for Seattle, allowing three runs in three innings pitched. The Mariners acquired Rios from the Rays in a trade also for cash considerations. Rios had signed a minor-league contract with Tampa before the season.
*** The Mariners officially completed the trade made with the Rangers this past offseason that brought right-handed reliever Rafael Montero to Seattle. The original trade announced Dec. 15, 2020 was Montero for right-handed pitcher Jose Corniell and a player to be named later. That player is 18-year-old infielder Andres Mesa, who was signed as a non-drafted free agent in July 2019.
Both Corniell and Mesa were in the same non-drafted free agent signing class out of the Dominican Republic. With the minor-league season cancelled and the Dominican Summer League beginning in a week, neither Corniell nor Mesa has played in a professional game.