Giants RF Mitch Haniger’s status for Opening Day in peril

Mitch Haniger, MLB, san francisco giants

New signing Mitch Haniger’s status for Opening Day is unclear, after the Giants outfielder suffered a Grade 1 oblique strain Friday, as John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Haniger suffered the injury as a result of an awkward swing on Friday. He had been due to play in San Francisco’s game against the Rockies that day, but was scratched.

Haniger, 32, was San Francisco’s biggest offseason investment this winter, signing with the team on a three-year, $43.5M deal. The Giants seemingly remain hopeful of Haniger featuring in their March 30 opener against the Yankees.

“I think anything is possible at this point. We’re still figuring out the return-to-play timeline. Obliques are challenging. Yes, I have had them. Sometimes they feel like they’re 100% healed, but then they’re not always 100% healed. I don’t have information yet that Mitch won’t be ready for the season for us. Maybe on the same track, maybe just less reps in spring training,” manager Gabe Kapler told reporters.

Grade 1 strains typically require a four-week recovery period, which would obviously put Haniger’s availability for Opening Day in major doubt. However, each strain is different, so there’s a chance he recovers sooner. Haniger wound up with a .246/.308/.429 line with 11 home runs over 247 plate appearances last season for the Mariners, and he is set to be the Giants’ everyday right fielder this year.

The signings of Haniger and Michael Conforto had appeared to push Joc Pederson into more of a full-time DH role, but the left-handed hitter could see some time in the corner outfield if Haniger isn’t ready for the start of the season. The other candidate to fill in would be Austin Slater, who currently projects as the team’s fourth outfielder. J.D. Davis has also seen time in the outfield, while the team has Stephen Piscotty with them as a non-roster player this spring, but for now they’ll hope Haniger can recover in time to make his debut on Opening Day.

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