Drayer: Mariners have no timeline for Haniger after 2nd surgery of 2020
To say Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger has had a rough go of it in the past year would be putting it lightly.
Sidelined for the majority of the 2019 season after suffering a ruptured testicle and the surgery that followed, his start to the 2020 season was already pushed back following the surprise announcement last month that he suffered a setback in early January that would require core surgery. Then the news broke Thursday night that Haniger had underwent a second surgery that day, a microdiscectomy, which general manager Jerry Dipoto termed as a small repair of a vertebrae when he met with the media in Peoria Friday morning.
“He’s in the hospital recovering right now,” he said. “We believe the procedure went well. He seems to be in pretty in good spirits as you probably saw (via a social media picture) and we’re expecting he will be here in camp, but we don’t have a timeline for that.”
Dipoto said that Haniger began experiencing lower back pain about a week ago. The doctor who performed the core surgery put him in contact with Dr. Robert Watkins who performed the discectomy, Haniger’s second surgery in less than a month, in Los Angeles. Team physical therapist Ryan Bitzel is in LA with Haniger and the Mariners will look to get more clarity on what comes next in the coming days.
“We don’t want to put a timeline on it,” said Dipoto. “Mitch works hard. Nobody is going to be more attentive to the detail on this one. We’ll assess as we go and find out how long this will take. We don’t really believe that this is likely to be something that affects all of 2020.”
While the latest injury is a blow for Haniger, it is a situation the Mariners were prepared for as he already was expected to miss time at the start of the season. The door gets opened a little wider for Jake Fraley and Braden Bishop to win a spot on the 26-man roster with significant playing time. The Mariners will also take a close look at veteran outfielder Carlos González, a former All-Star who was acquired earlier this week.
“There’s a reason we brought in a guy like Cargo,” he said. “It was to provide some leadership, mentorship and we will see how he looks physically when he gets into camp.”
Manager Scott Servais texted with Haniger following the surgery in an attempt to lift his spirits.
“My point was I hope this is the last hurdle he’s got to get over,” he said. “Keep moving his career back in the right direction. It happens to a number of players. There’s adversity. You find out a lot about yourself when you go through those things. Nobody has been challenged more than he has in the last year. It’s crazy stuff that’s been going on. I empathize with the player and his family because that’s what he does, he’s a baseball player and he’s really good at it and when you can’t do what you love to do, you are not going to be in the right frame of mind. You do get down.”
As for Dipoto, he understands what Haniger is going through right now. As a player, Dipoto underwent surgery to correct a bulging disk in his neck. A second disk issue ended his career.
“I can say I’ve been there,” he said. “It’s incredibly frustrating. We all feel bad for him, it’s why we don’t want to put a timeline on it because this has been a frustrating run for Mitch. There obviously have been a lot of physical issues that have stemmed from one unfortunate issue and hopefully he’s able to get beyond it.”
Servais believes getting Haniger into camp and around teammates once he is able to travel will help with the process of getting healthy again.
“Mitch is an unbelievable worker,” he pointed out. “He’s a good teammate, he’s a great player, he’ll be back and hopefully he gets back here after he gets checked up after the surgery, maybe next week.”