Haniger nearing return to baseball activities

Mariners outfielder recovering after taking pitch in face

Haniger nearing return to baseball activities

KANSAS CITY -- Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger has been completely sidelined the past five days since being hit in the face by a 95-mph fastball from Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom, but manager Scott Servais said on Thursday that the 26-year-old expects to be cleared to begin doing some activities in the next day or two.

Haniger sustained a slight concussion, a small nasal fracture and severe swelling in his lacerated upper lip when he was hit on Saturday, and he is expected to spend a couple weeks on the disabled list.

"I just texted with him today," Servais said prior to Thursday's series opener against the Royals. "The swelling is almost all down. He needs to get clearance from the doctor to start lifting and working out a little bit, which he's hoping to get today or tomorrow. But he's feeling much better."

Haniger will almost certainly need a Minor League rehab stint to get his timing and conditioning back once he's cleared to play in games, which figures to be sometime in mid-August. And once he does return, Servais said Haniger will likely wear some sort of protective gear on his helmet to shield his left jaw and nose area.

"He probably will get one of those extenders that a lot of guys put on their helmet," Servais said. "He even mentioned it, the day he came in. That's a no-brainer, because he never really saw the ball. It just kind of took off and he lost it. So he'll have one of those on."

They've worn a lot of pitches
Haniger is far from the only Mariners hitter who's been hit this year. The club leads the American League in hit by pitches with 59, one behind MLB leader Pittsburgh. The A's have been hit the fewest times in the AL at 24 and the Nationals are the lowest in the Majors with 14, so there is a wide discrepancy.

Dyson gets hit by a pitch

Jarrod Dyson leads the Mariners in hit by pitches with 10, though he's far from the MLB lead of 21 by the Pirates' Josh Harrison. Seattle has spread the pain around, with Haniger and Guillermo Heredia each hit eight times, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager seven each, Jean Segura six and Mike Zunino five.

Servais said there are some reasons the Mariners have gotten plunked more than most.

"The book on our guys obviously is to pitch them in," he said. "We've got guys with power. Look at where our guys stand at the plate. Nelson gets pitched in frequently, and you can understand why. They're trying to tie him up.

Cruz wants to hit after HBP

"With Dyson and how he does it, people are trying to cut him off and tie him up instead of letting him slap the ball the other way," Servais said. "Seager stands on top of the plate. So there are some reasons for it, just where we are in the box. But there are times, too, that you notice it and you're not happy with it. Our pitchers are aware of it as well. There's times to retaliate a little or make notice of it. Our guys will handle it."

Mariners pitchers have hit opposing batters 38 times entering Thursday, including four in the first two games of the recent Rangers series. Texas responded by hitting Segura and Cruz in Wednesday's finale to even the score at 4 in that series.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.