Mitch Haniger seeks to spark Mariners to sweep of D-backs

MLB Baseball

They weren’t the big names involved in the November 2016 trade, but Ketel Marte and Mitch Haniger have done all right for themselves.

In the first trade of Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen’s tenure, he sent shortstop Jean Segura, outfielder Haniger and left-hander Zac Curtis to the Seattle Mariners for right-hander Taijuan Walker and infielder Marte.

Segura and Walker have long since moved on, but Marte and Haniger remain with the Diamondbacks (45-92) and Mariners (74-62), respectively. The teams will wrap up a three-game interleague series Sunday afternoon in Phoenix.

Marte hit just three home runs over two seasons with the Mariners before filling out his 6-foot-1 frame and moving to center field. In 2019, he finished fourth in the National League’s MVP voting after batting .329 with 32 homers and 92 RBIs.

“He’s a totally different player,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “You could see he was going to fill out. I didn’t know he was going to get to the point where he’s at now. He’s a strong guy at the plate. His game shows it with his ability to impact the ball and drive the ball the way he can.”

Marte has been limited to 67 games this season because of a left-hamstring strain and is batting .337 with 10 homers and 39 RBIs for a team with the worst record in the NL.

“Even from the get-go when he first got to the big leagues, he controlled the (strike) zone really well,” Servais said. “Typically, if you look back, the hitters that produce in this league year after year after year, that’s what they do. He’s got that ability.”

Marte hit a solo homer batting right-handed Saturday, but the Diamondbacks lost 8-5 after Seattle’s Kyle Seager hit a pair of three-run shots.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Marte said earlier this week, “because when I go to the plate from the right side, I never think.

“I think from the left side. I think about my mechanics or being on time or any other kind of thought. But from the right side, I just go up there and swing.”

Haniger was an All-Star in 2018 when he batted .285 with 26 homers and 93 RBIs, but he missed most of the past two seasons — including all of the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, with injuries.

He’s batting .253 with a career-high 30 homers and 75 RBIs this season as the Mariners have stayed in the American League wild-card race.

“I loved Marte the year we had him,” Servais said. “It was just a situation where if you want to get good players, you’ve got to trade good players. I think the trade worked out very well for both teams, looking back at it now.”

Left-hander Tyler Gilbert (1-2, 2.93 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound in the series finale for the Diamondbacks.

The rookie threw a no-hitter against San Diego in his first start Aug. 14. He’s 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA over his last three starts. He will face the Mariners for the first time.

Seattle is set to start right-hander Chris Flexen (11-5, 3.52), who is 2-0 since his last loss July 27 against Houston.

Flexen is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in one previous start against the Diamondbacks.

–Field Level Media

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