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Mariners OF Mitch Haniger
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Mariners Check-In: Mitch Haniger has ways to help those living in quarantine

In the absence of baseball on the field is the opportunity to spend more time with those in the game away from the field. You’ve got time, I’ve got time, they’ve got time, so we are going to bring you these conversations. I can’t make any promises, but if there is a topic you would like to hear someone go in depth on, let us know in the comment section below. With these interviews I hope to bring outlook, insight, stories and hopefully a little entertainment too, which we all could use. Up first, Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger.

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I chose Mitch for the first interview because I thought he could bring a perspective that is interesting and perhaps helpful to some during what we are going through now with COVID-19 impacting all of us. Mitch came to mind because he is someone who has had baseball taken away from him. It’s obviously not the same as what we are going through right now, but bottom line is he’s been kept from the game he loves for long periods of time because of injury. I wanted to hear a little bit more about facing adversity, how he deals with the mental side and the role meditation plays in his daily life.

We caught up with Mitch at his home in California, where he and his wife have been following the state-ordered quarantine since he arrived back from Mariners spring training in Peoria, Ariz. He hopes you are doing the same.

“I’m healthy, my wife and I feel great, we are just trying to do the quarantine and help slow the curve,” he said. “I think it is really important that everybody just does their part. I think there are people at risk who will benefit from you staying home, and you may not be at risk but you can do your part in not spreading it. That’s really important.”

While staying at home, Mitch has been focusing on his rehab from back and core surgeries he underwent in January. Due to the current situation, rather than doing his work at the complex in Peoria or a rehab facility close to home, he is forced to do it on his own.

“It’s a lot of core exercises for strength and mobility,” he said. “I can pretty much do everything on my own. It would be nice to have someone but the (Mariners’) trainers do a great job trying to help me navigate this on my own.”

Mitch is focused on not falling behind in his rehab and without a personal trainer on hand, that takes even more discipline and attention to detail in his work. It’s another hurdle in what has already been one obstacle after another for him trying to get back from the initial injury he suffered last season, but Mitch is rolling with it.

“It is just being able to adapt and adjust to what I am able to do and control what I am able to control and that’s basically the whole philosophy behind everything I believe in,” he said. “It is just not worrying about things that are out of your control – although it can be hard at times – but building that mental resiliency to be able to focus on things you can control, not worry about external events you cannot control and just try to get through it and try to look at the positive side of things.”

That approach has helped him deal with the current lockdown.

“For instance, what we are going through right now it can be very difficult for people because you can’t resume in your normal routine or normal life. You can’t see a ton of family and friends like I would want to, so for me just trying to stay in contact with my friends more than I typically do when my schedule is really busy and I am at the field for six to eight hours a day… now I can call friends more often, talk to my parents more often, talk to my grandma, spend a lot of time with my wife. Those are some positives that you can look at, you can try to get out of this situation, and so for me, I love self-improvement type stuff. I feel like I am always trying to improve, to help my performance on the field and help my life off the field, managing stress, making sure I am sleeping and eating right. You have got all the time in the world to focus on those things right now.”

While finding positives, Mitch stressed that this is making the best of a very bad situation. In that, he offers encouragement.

“There’s some definite negatives, and I feel for people who might be going through as far as the illness goes or not being able to work or laid off, that’s got to be really difficult,” he said. “We are here to hopefully support you but at the same time there can be something that can be taken from even a bad situation. That’s where I think a gratefulness practice can come into a really helpful scenario. If you are watching this interview now and you are a fan, you most likely have an internet and a TV or a tablet and a smart phone and you probably have food, water and shelter, and those are things that not everyone on earth are blessed to have, and you should be thankful for those things and remind yourself of that and I think that can really help a mindset.”

One thing that has helped Mitch get through adversity both current and past is meditation, something he got into while in college and still practices and studies. He has found it has been particularly helpful of late.

“My best years on the field and happiest off the field have been when I was consistently meditating and taking that time for stillness and trying to get into a relaxed state where you know that your worries or stresses can calm down or go away. I think it’s really important. it’s really helped me. I hope people give it a shot.”

In the video, Haniger talks a bit about his daily routine and gives a number of places to start if this is something you are interested in. He recommends apps, books and social media follows, and he stresses that the whole process need not take more than a few minutes each day. He even squeezes in an exercise when he makes his coffee.

“I think if you wake up five minutes early or stay up five minutes later at night, you’d be surprised how easy it is to to squeeze in a practice,” he said.

We also talk some baseball in the video. We get his observations of big league camp, hear about which Mariner he thinks is a beast with the bat and we also have a conversation on the electronic strike zone, robo umps and why he is against it.

It was good to catch up with Mitch, who like us is finding ways to feed that baseball hunger.

“I’m watching highlights and past games,” he said. “I think that definitely helps fill the big spot in our hearts where we are all missing baseball and we are all excited to hopefully get back out there once everything calms down and it is safe to resume.”

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