Servais met with his staff to go over the miscommunication on not going for a replay challenge on Saturday in his absence.
DETROIT — A level of normalcy returned to the Mariners on Sunday. Well, as normal as you can get for a team that has a relatively diverse and an eclectic cadre of personalities.
After leaving the team for two days to see his daughter, Jackie, receive her Master’s degree from Ole Miss, manager Scott Servais was back with the team and preparing for Sunday’s series finale at Comerica Park.
“I survived,” he said. “I had an early wakeup call at 3 a.m., but I’m here and ready to go. My daughter said that as she walked across the stage to get her diploma, the dean of the journalism school said, ‘I heard your dad was here today.’ I don’t know if she took that as good or bad.”
While it wasn’t enjoyable to be away from the team, it was worth it as a father.
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“It was great to be able to go through that with your kids,” he said. “They put so much time and effort into that. It was the right thing.”
So how was it being away from the team for the two games?
“It was really hard,” he said. “The first six or seven innings of the first game I was in a ceremony in the gym and I had no cell service. I knew the score was 1-1 when I went in. But when I got out of there, I saw they had gotten a few runs. When we got back to the party, my son had hooked up the computer to the TV and I was trying not to look at every pitch, but it’s hard.”
It provided a different perspective.
“I will say the game looks so much easier when you are watching on TV,” he said. “I was like ‘how did we miss that pitch, how did we throw that pitch? Everything happens way slower. Everybody needs that experience of being close to home plate or the dugout to see the speed of the ball and how much everything is moving and how many things are going on.”
Servais was obviously asked about the issues in Game 1 of the doubleheader where there was a breakdown in the process of reviewing a play for a possible replay challenge. Manny Acta, who normally handles the communication with Antony Suzuki about challenges, was serving as manager in Servais’ absence. In the sixth inning, Mitch Haniger appeared to throw out a runner at the plate in a tie game. But the Mariners didn’t challenge the play with Acta later admitting there was a miscommunication. It led to a three-run inning and a 4-3 loss. Servais got an explanation from his staff when he got to Detroit.
“I talked to the guys a little bit yesterday and more importantly this morning,” he said. “The biggest thing was the miscommunication. We had guys in different spots that they typically aren’t at. I feel bad for that. You never plan for it. It was a close play. It was pivotal play in the game. But it really was a miscommunication. It wasn’t anybody saying, ‘yes or no.’ We just got the wires crossed on the message coming from the video room to the dugout. It happens.”
Will he do anything different to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
“Yeah, and that’s one thing we talked about this morning,” Servais said. “Just make sure we are clear in our process and how we are doing things. You know things happen. Players strike out with the bases loaded, they make errors, I make wrong decisions on some nights. It’s part of it. We are all this together.”
It’s likely Servais would’ve challenged in that situation. He’s done it a few times before where he just decides to go for it instead of waiting for the definitive answer from Suzuki or replay personnel from years past.
“Sometimes you are waiting and waiting and waiting and you know what, it’s the seventh inning, so let’s just roll and go for it and I will challenge it,” he said. “It’s not often. But I’ve probably done it five or six times over the past few years. It depends on where you are at in the game and how crucial the play is. I’m always leaning on the guy in the video room because he’s got six or seven different views to look at, but there comes a point in the game where we have nothing to lose, so let’s just go for it.”
Because of the doubleheader on Saturday, the Mariners will need to find a starter for Wednesday’s series finale vs. the Rangers at Safeco Field. It was originally supposed to be Marco Gonzales’ turn in the rotation.
Given their bullpen setup, the Mariners will likely have to call up a pitcher to make a spot start.
“We aren’t sure on how we are going to handle that one yet,” he said. “We may look at who is available in Triple A to bring someone up there. We are really not built bullpen-wise to just absorb nine innings out of a bullpen start. So we’ll look at different options.”
It probably won’t be lefty Roenis Elias, who pitched 5 2/3 innings on Saturday night. Lefty Ariel Miranda is slated to pitch on Sunday. But the Mariners could shorten his start to make it like a throw day and have him available. Veteran right-hander Christian Bergman, who pitched on Friday night, would be on normal rest to start on Wednesday. The Mariners would have to add him to the 40-man roster, which wouldn’t be difficult since they have two open spots. Right-hander Rob Whalen has probably been pitching the best out of all the Rainiers starters. He pitched on Thursday, so he could also be a possibility.