SEATTLE — The Mariners will indefinitely be without their top run producer, as Mitch Haniger tested positive for COVID on Saturday and was placed on the injured list. Haniger must remain away from the team for at least five days and test negative in consecutive days and show no symptoms before being allowed to return.
In a corresponding move, infielder Donovan Walton was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma.
Haniger was experiencing symptoms after Friday’s home-opening 11-1 win over Houston and conducted an at-home test early Saturday morning. The Mariners then followed up with another test on the right fielder at T-Mobile Park, which also came back positive.
“Not great news,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “But you have to deal with this stuff. It’s everywhere, and you are starting to see it cropping up a little bit around the league and now it’s in our clubhouse.”
Haniger had played in all eight of Seattle’s games since the season began, hitting .176/.200/.471 with three homers and seven RBIs. He led the team with 39 homers last year and ranked second with 100 RBIs, and his power presence in the cleanup spot will be missed while he’s sidelined.
“We’ll continue to test him and hopefully get him back as soon as we can,” Servais said.
In Haniger’s stead, Jarred Kelenic will likely make most of Seattle’s starts in right field, as he did on Saturday. Kelenic has already made two of his seven starts there this season, both on days that Haniger was DH. That trickle-down effect will likely include Jesse Winker seeing more time in left field and in general. The Mariners had intended for one, the other or both to sit against stronger left-handed starting pitchers, though Haniger’s absence will impact those plans.
Also on Saturday, Abraham Toro was added to the lineup and played third, and Eugenio Suárez moved from third to DH. The Mariners in Spring Training diligently worked to create more defensive versatility, as well as a rotational DH, to address attrition throughout the year. Toro and Dylan Moore both broke camp in super-utility roles.
“We’re deeper than we’ve ever been,” Servais said. “We do have versatile guys that can move around, and having guys like Toro and D-Mo and guys like that, that can play multiple positions and fill in, and things like this come up, they’re really important. But you hate to lose Hani for any period of time.”