Scott Servais will never forget the 2016 road trip to Houston.
Then a first-year manager with a love of throwing batting practice, he was out on the field early before a game when he got an idea.
“I was out there early throwing to the guys that day, and Edgar (Martinez) of course, the hitting coach, was leaning against the cage so I said, ‘Edgar, let’s go, get in there and take a couple.’”
Martinez, 53 years old at the time, obliged. The third pitch Servais threw ended up in Minute Maid Park’s famed Crawford Boxes. Everything else went farther.
“He made it look easy, even at that time,” Servais said. “It was pretty cool, it was pretty cool to see — same swing, same finish, everything was the same.”
Martinez served as the Mariners’ hitting coach from 2015-18, two of those years were under Servais. On Wednesday, the team honored his years as a player and coach by unveiling a statue of the Puerto Rican slugger. He’s the third person honored by the Mariners with one, joining longtime announcer David Niehaus and former teammate Ken Griffey Jr.
Servais, who attended Wednesday afternoon’s festivities, said the statue was well deserved, and while he made sure to mention the greatness of Martinez on the field, the manager believes it’s his attributes off it that have truly made him such a franchise icon.
“You can talk about the numbers and the stats,” Servais said. “But the impact he’s had on a number of people throughout the Pacific Northwest, from the casual fan to people driving down I-5 and seeing Edgar Martinez Drive, I mean he has really impacted this community in so many ways.”
In 18 seasons, all in Seattle, Martinez — a seven-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger, and two-time batting champion who also came up clutch with the walkoff double against the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the 1995 American League Divisional Series — also was awarded the 2004 Roberto Clemente Award for his community work.
Martinez’s career is even more notable considering he didn’t establish himself in MLB circles until his age 27 season, grinding through the minor leagues before making it to the Show and to Cooperstown. Servais said there’s a humility about Martinez that draws players, coaches and fans alike to him.
“He’s a self-made player, and I think people can really identify with that and appreciate that.” he said.
Servais preaches patience with bottom of lineup
More than anything and especially from his players near the bottom of the lineup, Servais is just looking for some consistency.
“Those guys are going to get it going again, I’m pretty confident in that,” he said.
In the Mariners’ past five games, seven different players have stepped up to the plate in the six through nine spots in Seattle’s batting order. They’ve combined to go 12 for 73, or .164 with 25 strikeouts and 10 walks. They’ve contributed five runs and three RBIs in the same span.
However, outfielder Jarred Kelenic has been one of the few bright spots lower in the order. The 22-year-old is 4 for 15, .266, with two walks. He’s responsible for three of the five runs scored by batters in the No. 6 spot or below in the past five games.
“Jarred Kelenic has hit in the bottom of the order predominantly here since he got back, and I think the last road trip, he had as productive of a trip as anybody we had,” Servais said. “Some of the other guys around him have been a little bit hot and cold, but that happens in the course of a baseball season.”
Servais also mentioned the performance of catcher Cal Raleigh, who’s 3 for 11 in his past five games with an RBI.
“Small sample size for me,” Servais said. “I do know Kelenic has been swinging the bat really good down there. And Cal Raleigh’s at-bats, doesn’t have as many hits as he’d like, but I think his at-bats have been very good, and he’s usually hitting toward the bottom of the lineup as well.”