Two home runs, a highlight-reel throw and a Seattle Mariners win. Mitch Haniger was big Tuesday night.
His throw out of the right field corner in the sixth inning was something else, on a rope from 242 feet away to get Angels third baseman Luis Valbuena out at second, courtesy of Jean Segura’s behind-the-back tag.
That was Haniger’s seventh outfield assist so far this season, which is tied for the most in the major leagues.
He’s also one of just three players in the majors with at least 50 RBI and 15 home runs, joining the Red Sox’s J.D. Martinez and Orioles’ Manny Machado. Good company.
“Mitch is a five-tool player,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He can hit for average, he’s got some power, pretty good defender, runs the bases well and he’s off to a great start this season. It’s fun to watch.”
But Haniger said he wants to do more of what he did Tuesday afternoon, hours before first pitch.
He organized an event for some young cancer patients from Seattle Children’s Hospital, signing custom-made Topps baseball cards. Instead of the cards showing faces of the players, they, instead, were pictures of the kids. Haniger, as well as a few other Mariners players, signed them and gave some bats out, as well.
.@M_Hanny17 and teammates were proud to play host to a number of kids from @seattlechildren today.— Mariners (@Mariners) June 12, 2018
Not only were we able to sign for them—but they signed custom-made @Topps cards for us.
“And we took some pictures and hung out with the kids,” Haniger said. “It’s just fun to make someone smile.
“In the offseason I did stuff with a group called More Than A Game (a grassroots charity that he joined with to help renovate baseball fields in Hilo, Hawaii, this past offseason and then teaching kids how to play). And it makes you realize you can affect a lot of people. For me, the more people you can bring up with you while you are having success – it shows who you are. That’s something I want to keep doing.”
Haniger said Tuesday was his first experience with kids from Seattle Children’s and eight, along with some siblings, were surprised by their visit with the Mariners players.
My daughter was one of them! Such a fun event for these kids and their families- @M_Hanny17 and his wife are class acts. Thanks to him, the @Mariners and @Topps. He even brought some friends! pic.twitter.com/K6zunnMF9C— James Cole (@jamesfcole23) June 13, 2018
Haniger approached his teammates about it on Monday during their hitter's meeting.
"A little announcement the day before just to give guys a head's up. No asking for anybody to come, just 'Here's what I got set up and I'd appreciate if a couple of guys made time to come," Servais said.
Pretty fitting that later in the day Haniger would have one of his best games of the season.
He hit a shot the opposite way for a home run in the first inning and then added a go-ahead two-run homer in the fifth inning in the Mariners' 6-3 win to improve to 19 games over .500.
It was his second career game with mulitple home runs. Haniger is now tied for the team lead with Nelson Cruz at 15 homers this season.
“It was a good day,” Haniger said.
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