Mitch Haniger Likely Out Until July

Mitch Haniger was placed on the injured list a couple of weeks ago due to a right ankle sprain, with the club not providing an estimate on his recovery period at that time. Haniger himself spoke to Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times and gave an update that won’t come as good news to Mariners’ fans, as he might be out until around the All-Star break.

“As far as getting back in games, I think like a rough estimate would be from date of injury is 10 to 12 weeks,” Haniger says. “But at the same time, I’ve heard it can go on the earlier end and I’ve also heard on the longer end.” As Divish notes, that 10-12 week timeline would mean a return to action somewhere in the window of July 10-24, with a rehab stint likely pushing his return to the big leagues another couple of weeks down the road.

This marks yet another frustrating development in the Haniger arc, as he has oscillated between excellent performance and extended absences in his career. Over 2017 and 2018, he hit 42 home runs and slashed .284/.361/.492 for a 134 wRC+. After 63 games in 2019, he fouled a ball off himself and ruptured a testicle, wiping out the rest of that season as well as the next. He returned last year and had a tremendous comeback, hitting 39 dingers and slashing .253/.318/.485, 120 wRC+. This year, he’s been limited to nine games, first by a bout with Covid, followed by this ankle sprain. Incidentally, Haniger thinks one issue might have led to the other, as he tells Divish that he had post-Covid struggles with congestion and pressure in his head, which affected his balance.

For Haniger personally, it’s very unfortunate timing for yet another serious injury. The 31-year-old is in his final year of club control, heading to free agency at season’s end. It seems now that his platform year will be reduced to the last two or three months of the campaign, assuming he can follow the prescribed timeline. Even if he can return to health and play well over the second half of the schedule, teams will no doubt use this injury as a way to try to tamp down their offers.

It’s also quite unfortunate for the team, as their hot start has been largely erased by a rough two-week skid. After going 11-6 in their first 17 games, the club has since gone 3-12 in their last 15 contests, winding up at 14-18. Although Julio Rodriguez has been heating up after a cold start, the rest of the regular outfielders haven’t provided much. Jesse Winker’s batting line is sitting at .202/.313/.275, 86 wRC+. Jarred Kelenic is even colder, with a line of .141/.221/.294, for a 58 wRC+. With Haniger not returning for a few months, that group will need to step up in order to help the team pull out of this recent tailspin. Some help is on the way, however, with 2020 AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis currently out on a rehab assignment and likely returning in just over a week.

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