Mitch Haniger feels more comfortable this season back with Mariners

Mar 14, 2024, 12:46 AM | Updated: 10:21 am

Seattle Mariners Mitch Haniger...

Mitch Haniger of the Seattle Mariners celebrates a home run in 2022 against the Tigers. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Last season came with a lot of change for Mitch Haniger, who joined the San Francisco Giants in free agency after five years with the Seattle Mariners.

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Even though Haniger returned to his native Bay Area in California, leaving the Mariners organization after spending almost his entire MLB career with the franchise was not easy. When he joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob at spring training in Arizona, he said the idea of coming back to Seattle at some point was hard to get out of his mind in 2023.

“I thought about it a lot last year. I had to try to stop myself from thinking about it,” Haniger said Tuesday. “Definitely missed Seattle and I thought, you know, maybe one day after this deal’s up I can go back to Seattle. I just was like, alright, let’s cross that bridge when that time comes and let’s stay focused on the next couple of years I’m going to be here in San Francisco.”

Fate stepped in, though. Just a little over a year after Haniger signed a three-year contract with the Giants, he was re-acquired by the Mariners in a trade on Jan. 5.

“Just kind of ironic how the trade went down. It was cool, I was super excited when I found out,” Haniger said.

Haniger, a one-time All-Star with the Mariners, didn’t have an easy time in his one year with the Giants. Injury limited him to just 61 games, and he finished the year with a .209/.266/.365 slash line for a .631 OPS, all career-low numbers for him.

Now back in a familiar setting with the Mariners, the 33-year-old Haniger said he feels much more comfortable as he gets ready for the 2024 season.

“It definitely felt weird switching teams, switching organizations. I just got used to how we ran things here,” he said. “I enjoyed it, had a great relationship with people on the staff, in the training room, my teammates. And then just having to restart everything (with the Giants), it’s definitely challenging. Hats off to the guys that it’s kind of seamless for them (when they change teams). For me, I felt like obviously I had a just terrible year last year with injuries and performance, and it’s good to be back. I feel much more comfortable here. I’ve always loved wearing the teal and blue, and it’s good to be back in the uniform.”

There’s one more reason Haniger feels more at ease this spring: he’s gotten more used to the pitch clock that was put into practice by MLB for the first time last year.

“This spring’s been good. Last year it was hard for me – I missed most of spring training last year and then kind of got thrown back into the fire quickly,” he said. “I didn’t like (the pitch clock) because it was something I had to think about where for 32 years, or however long I’ve been playing professionally – I don’t know, 10 years or so – you never have to think about it. So now it’s like a thought that you’re trying to get in …. It’s weird to (then) just let your mind go. But yeah, this year I just made it a point to be just quicker with everything I do and just stay with my breathing and make sure I’m calm. But I’m faster with it and I think it’s been going well. I feel comfortable.”

Listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

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