Mitch Haniger sees Mariners getting closer to his World Series goal

Jan 20, 2022, 11:07 AM | Updated: 2:45 pm

Mariners Mitch Haniger...

Mitch Haniger of the Seattle Mariners reacts after his two-run home run against the Angels on Oct. 2. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Ask Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger what his goal is, and he will tell you it is to win the World Series.

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This is not a new expectation or goal. It is something he has said for years, even coming off over a year and a half lost to injuries, even as a member of a rebuilding club. Little by little that statement is starting to sound a little less audacious, even when presented in a Players’ Tribune post entitled “Dear Mariners Fans” that essentially put the rest of the league on notice.

Haniger joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob on Wednesday afternoon to promote the Seattle Sports Commission’s 87th annual Sports Star of the Year Awards – in which he is up for Men’s Sports Star of the Year (vote here before Jan. 23) – and was asked about what went into the piece.

“I think it was really important to look back on the season and thank the fans,” he said. “And also looking back and saying ‘We fell short.’ And this isn’t a success in that last year’s season was a good step forward, but in my mind it wasn’t a successful season because we didn’t make the playoffs and we didn’t win the World Series. And that’s our main goal.”

The 90-win Mariners put themselves in position to have a chance at the end of the 2021 season but dropped a crucial Game 1 of their final series against the Angels. The memory, still fresh in Haniger’s mind.

“I just remember (that) Friday night, we’ve lost and getting home I was pretty devastated,” he said. “I was like, ‘Man, we have such a great opportunity here and we just blew it.’ We knew we kind of needed to sweep them. I was, ‘OK, if we win Saturday and Sunday there’s still a really good shot we get in,’ and (we) had that really awesome game Saturday and everybody was erupting and we’re having a blast, and then Sunday just kind of fell apart on us. I mean, a lot of great things to look back on and a lot of areas that we can look back on to just kind of shore up and improve so that we can be in the playoffs next year and and make it all the way to the World Series.”

Before the current MLB lockout, Haniger had been following efforts to shore up and improve the Mariners’ roster with great interest, and he sees opportunity to take big steps forward. For him, the time is now.

“Robbie Ray signing and the Adam Frazier trade were definitely two impact moves that we made that are setting ourselves up for it to be a good offseason,” he said. “I think we still need some more big upgrades. Adding a couple more players should put us over the top. It’s really difficult to win a World Series and (we have) that window of young prospects that should be ready soon, but also we need guys that come in that can produce this year. And although we have great prospects that I’m looking forward to putting on the Mariners uniform, they still are unproven. I think the more guys that we can get with a steady track record of playing against the best in the world at the MLB level, the better. And then we supplement those prospects with those guys, I feel like that’s our best chance of success.”

Haniger was especially buoyed by the addition of Cy Young Award winner Ray, his former teammate with Arizona who he believes will have a big impact on the Mariners both on and off the field.

“That’s another guy who’s been around the game for a while now and has had a ton of success,” he pointed out. “He’s going to be a great voice for the pitchers and for the rest of our team in our clubhouse, and I’m thrilled that he’s joining our staff and our team.”

Of course MLB and the MLB Players Association will need to come to agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement before Haniger, Ray and the rest of the Mariners can come together for spring training in Peoria to prepare for what many are hoping will be the season they return to the playoffs. With little movement on the negotiations front, an on-time start to spring training appears to be in jeopardy. Haniger is hopeful that when all is said and done, a full 162-game season will indeed be played but pointed to the lockout as a less than ideal place to start negotiations.

“That’s the only thing I’m focusing on (is) showing up to spring training, hopefully the same time I always do, and I’m getting ready and prepared to win a World Series,” he said. “There was a lot of buzz around our city and within the game, and it is pretty unfortunate that the league and the owners implemented the lockout. I feel like this was a little unnecessary and I felt like it’s a fact that they didn’t need to do it and we could have kept on having a normal offseason as far as trades and signs go, and we could have had negotiations going on in the background and hopefully come to an agreement sooner than later. But that’s not the route that was taken and I hope that things get handled, and for the fans’ sake, because we all want to play for you guys and and have another year of great baseball.”

Among other topics in the 20-minute conversation is a look at Haniger’s physical and mental preparation. Prior to his surgeries early in 2020, he discovered a new trainer with a unique approach to improving performance. Haniger credits his new offseason work not just for getting him back on the field – and in a very productive way – in 2021, but also for the power surge he showed, hitting a career-high 39 home runs.

On the mental side, Haniger has long been a big fan of meditation and visualization. Wednesday he revealed that his latest exploration (or “rabbit hole,” as he called it) is working on his subconscious mind, something introduced to him by Edgar Martinez.

You can listen to the full conversation from Wyman and Bob at this link or in the player below.

More Mariners coverage from 710Sports.com

• Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser says Mariners’ strength is top young arms
Glaser: Julio Rodríguez can be one of the faces of MLB
• Drayer: How does the Mariners’ rotation compare to rest of AL West?
Drayer: How does heart of Mariners’ order stack up in their division?
• Gustafson: The biggest wild cards who could help end M’s playoff drought

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