Tacoma Rainiers

Mitch Haniger hits triple in first game in Tacoma, but Rainiers fall to Bees

The Tacoma Rainiers’ winning streak came to an end at five games with a 6-3 loss to Salt Lake.

In his first rehab appearance in Tacoma, Mariners outfielder Mitch Hanigar went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts and walk. His lone hit came in the bottom of the second on a 425-foot triple to the base of the wall in center field on an 0-2 count that brought in a pair of runs.

“He felt good,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said after the game. “Obviously, he had the one ball he squared up the one ball to center field. He felt good enough after four at-bats that he wanted another one if he came up in the ninth, so that’s always good.

“Everything’s good today, we’ll see how he is tomorrow.”

Haniger’s triple was the capper in a three-run frame for the Rainiers. After that, Tacoma managed just three more hits the rest of the way.

The Bees came back, scoring three runs in the third and fourth innings against Rainiers starter Darren McCaughan. In both frames, McCaughan retired the first two batters before allowing the Bees to rally.

“He just had a hard time finishing the innings,” Brown said. “He’s a young pitcher in first experience here at Triple-A. You’ve got to go at it with your best stuff until you’re walking off there, and they got to him tonight a couple of times when he should have been able to get out of the inning.”

Ryan Garton, Dan Altavilla, and Gerson Bautista combined for four no-hit innings of relief behind McCaughan. Altavilla threw 15 pitches in his third rehab outing in Tacoma and struck out two.

“Every time he’s been out there for us this last time through, he’s been really good,” Brown said. “It’s coming out of his hand good.”

The Rainiers brought Jaycob Brugman to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, but the Tacoma right fielder struck out swinging at a pitch at his ankles to end the chance. In the ninth, Brugman came to the plate once again with the game on the bat, this time representing the tying run, but once again struck out, this time to end the game.

Tacoma and Salt Lake will finish off their three-game series with a rubber match Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m., with Anthony Misiewiscz and Drew Hutchison slated to start.

Mitch Haniger comes to Tacoma on rehab stint after lengthy time on IL

Seventy-five days after he was placed on the injured list with a freak injury, Mitch Haniger’s rehab stint has come to the South Sound.

Haniger was added to the Tacoma Rainiers roster Monday evening, but did not appear along with Felix Hernandez. Come Tuesday, he was in the clubhouse at Cheney Stadium and slotted second in the batting order as the designated hitter.

“I’m just excited to get back on the field,” Haniger said before Tacoma’s matchup against Salt Lake.

Haniger went on the IL with a ruptured testicle after fouling a ball into his groin June 6. After surgery and nine weeks out, he made his return with High-A Modesto, playing two games with the California League squad.

He went 1-for-4 with an RBI double in his first game back as a DH on Aug. 13. The next day he played right field, going 0-for-2 with a walk before exiting in the sixth inning. Back soreness delayed his progress for a couple of days.

Now, the hope is to give him a few games at Triple-A before a call-up back to the Mariners. The most optimistic goal would be to have him ready to go when the Rainiers hit the road Monday.

But after so long away from game action, the current focuses are on his comfort and the organization’s flexibility.

“I haven’t heard any timeline,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said before the game. “It’s going to be see how he feels and go from there. It’s not like he’s missed like two weeks; it’s been a significant time. He needs at-bats, and we need him to be obviously be healthy enough to take the at-bats.

“There’s always little setbacks as we go along, but hopefully we get through tonight alright and then we’ll worry about tomorrow when it gets here.”

Once Haniger and the training staff are happy with his comfort level after his DH outings, the plan is to work him back into the mix in the outfield.

“It’s not like he hasn’t done something to this point, but there will be some rust, there always is.,” Brown said. “It’s just a matter of getting him to feel comfortable at the plate.”

Haniger hit .220 with 15 home runs in 63 games with the Mariners before his injury, only taking four days off to that point.

Now one step away from being back with Seattle, the 2018 AL All-Star is itching to get back to the big leagues.

“The goal is to get back up there and help the team win,” Haniger said. “Just have to take it day-by-day, this is the next step. Getting the body back in shape to go back up there and help them win some ballgames.”