SEATTLE -- Life has been a struggle for Mitch Haniger since returning from a six-week stint on the disabled list with a strained oblique, but the Mariners' rookie right fielder showed signs of revival with the bat on Thursday in a 7-4 loss to the A's.
After looking like an early American League Rookie of the Year challenger in his first month in the Majors, when he posted a .342/.447/.608 line with four homers and 16 RBIs in 21 games, Haniger fell back to earth upon his return, batting just .195/.313/.293 with two homers and six RBIs in his last 22 games.
But the 26-year-old snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a double and home run in his first two at-bats on Thursday and said he felt like he was getting his early-season swing back after some intensive work with hitting coach Edgar Martinez and assistant coach Scott Brosius.
"It's better. I wouldn't have been able to do that the past couple days," he said of driving a 2-1 fastball out to the opposite field for the Mariners' only run in 7 2/3 innings off rookie Paul Blackburn. "It's nice to stay on that pitch up and away and it definitely says my swing is coming back and is feeling good. So that's good to see."
The Mariners need Haniger's bat to help lengthen out their lineup again after some recent struggles. The club has lost nine of its past 11 games, including eight straight at Safeco Field.
"Mitch did swing the bat better tonight," manager Scott Servais said. "It was good to see. He was on some fastballs and drove the ball much better."
That doesn't surprise Servais, who has had high praise for Haniger's professionalism since he first arrived at Spring Training after being acquired from the D-backs last winter.
"We saw an unbelievable Mitch Haniger for the first month," Servais said. "His timing has been off. We haven't seen him control the strike zone as well as he did early on. He is an inexperienced player at this level and there are going to be some ups and downs with that. We've certainly seen the ups and how good it can be.
"I do have a lot of confidence in him. He prepares very well. He's always talking the game, asking good questions, talking to the right people. He's searching, not just sitting back and saying, 'I'll be OK.' He's not wired that way. I think he's going to be fine."
Haniger's downside was getting thrown out at third by center fielder Jaycob Brugman trying to advance on a fly ball by Jarrod Dyson in the third, one of several baserunning mistakes by the Mariners.
"We're giving away a lot of free outs on the bases," Servais said. "We're kind of doing it to ourselves. We're better than this. But there's only one way out. We must figure it out and get after it. And it starts tomorrow."
Haniger credited Brugman with making a good throw to nail Haniger at third, but he vowed that the Mariners would come out aggressive again in the remainder of the series against the A's leading up to the All-Star break.
"We need to go get these last three games," Haniger said. "I'll take our lineup and staff over their guys. They have a good team over there, but I like our guys on this team and us on paper. We just have to put up the numbers and be better than them."