Mariners' Haniger undergoes second surgery in three weeks

JOSE M. ROMERO (Associated Press)
The Associated Press
Seattle Mariners' Mitch Haniger is congratulated and showered with sunflower seeds after his solo home run against the Houston Astros in the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seattle Mariners' Mitch Haniger is congratulated and showered with sunflower seeds after his solo home run against the Houston Astros in the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) -- Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger is not likely to take the field anytime soon following his second surgery in less than a month.

The Mariners said the 2018 All-Star had a lower back procedure Thursday that followed core surgery in January.

Both are related to a ruptured testicle sustained in a game last June, an injury believed to have occurred when he fouled off a pitch and the ball hit him in the groin area. In working his way back, Haniger felt back pain and never played again last season.

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Haniger posted a photo of himself in a hospital bed on Instagram on Thursday with the caption reading ''2nd surgery today in the last 3 weeks. Not how I imagined heading into the 2020 season but I'm really excited to start this recovery process and build myself back up. I'll do whatever it takes to come back even better than I've ever been!''

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said Haniger, who hit .285 with 26 home runs and 93 runs batted in in 2018 before his 2019 season was cut short, had an operation called a microdiscectomy, or small repair of vertebrae in his back. There is no timeline for when Haniger can play nor when he will arrive at spring training.

''We hope this is something that provides him some relief, and we're able to move on from there,'' Dipoto said Friday. ''We didn't anticipate that he was going to be here on opening day, regardless.''

Seattle does not think Haniger will miss the entire season.

''I feel bad for Mitch and what he's going through,'' manager Scott Servais said. ''I do know Mitch Haniger well enough that to fight through things and to work his tail off to get where he wants to get, and that's back on the field playing, he's going to do whatever it takes in that regard.''

Servais exchanged text messages with Haniger on Thursday.

''I do hope this is the last hurdle he's got to get over and keep moving his career in the right direction,'' Servais said.

Servais hopes Haniger will arrive in Arizona next week after being cleared to travel.

Not having Haniger means the Mariners will be giving longer looks to a number of younger outfielders to play right field. Those include Jake Fraley and Braden Bishop, who saw major league action last season, and prospects Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic. Veteran Carlos Gonzalez is also in the mix after having recently been signed.

Haniger and infielder Dee Gordon are the only two position players not expected to arrive for the voluntary reporting day Monday. The Gordon family is expecting a child and he could be delayed by a day or two, Servais said.

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