Mariners OF Mitch Haniger: 2021 is ‘the most fun playing baseball I’ve had’
The Mariners are just a few hours from first pitch in the final series opener of the year and Seattle enters Friday’s contest against the Angels in a great spot as the team is tied for the second American League wild card spot.
Someone who’s been key for the Mariners all season long is right fielder Mitch Haniger, who, after missing most of 2019 and all of 2020, is putting together arguably his best career season and he has a team-high 38 home runs and has driven in 95 runs.
MITCH HANIGER ✨𝐌𝐀𝐆𝐈𝐂✨ pic.twitter.com/zyr2tCMbPf
— ROOT SPORTS™ | NW (@ROOTSPORTS_NW) September 29, 2021
The star outfielder joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob on Friday and discussed the Mariners’ demeanor and attitude and the energy surrounding this team.
The Mariners announced that all three games against the Angels are nearly sold out, and Haniger is very excited to be playing in front of a packed crowd at T-Mobile Park.
“There is a big difference playing in front of a crowd like that as opposed to a few months ago when everybody’s not that rowdy,” he said.
As far as playing in all these key games of late, Haniger is having an absolute blast.
“It’s been very fun. I feel like every pitch feels like the ninth inning,” he said. “It feels like every pitch we are trying to close out the game and that’s starting in inning one. It’s been the most fun playing baseball I’ve had. It’s been awesome.”
Dave Wyman called Haniger the heart of the team, but Haniger pointed to the Mariners’ most veteran player.
“I appreciate you saying that, but I’d probably give the title to (Kyle) Seager,” Haniger said. “That’s the guy that I still continue to go to for advice. He’s been great for this team and for the city for so many years and he means a lot to us in the clubhouse. He has done a great job leading us. It’s been fun. It’s been exciting every day.”
Speaking of the clubhouse, Haniger offered some insight into what that environment is like.
“We joke around a lot in the clubhouse with each other and make fun of each other a lot,” he said. “We say when we go on the road and you hear it from the (opposing) fans, they’re honest and sometimes we turn around and say, ‘Hey, nobody makes fun of us more than us. Like you can’t get to us.’ That’s kind of how we talk to each other in the clubhouse, we’re always trying to get under each other skin but I think it’s in a good way and it brings out the best in us.”
The Mariners are currently tied with the Boston Red Sox for that second wild card spot, and while the Mariners have been winning, they’ve needed the Red Sox and other tea to lose. Haniger did admit that the team has been watching the other results closely, but the main focus is on winning out the rest of the way.
“I’m not going to lie to you, there’s definitely been some scoreboard watching, but I think we’ve always felt like if we take care of business on our end we will be in that wild card game and that’s kind of our approach right now,” he said. “It’s just win every game and we will be in the wild card game. We’ve seen some stuff around the city and a lot more Mariners gear the last couple days and more people getting pumped up and seeing videos on social media and stuff like that so it’s been fun. The energy is there and it’s fun so we are ready.”
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