Mariners' manager Scott Servais discussed his upcoming message to his team before Thursday's full squad workout, the plan for Nelson Cruz and the competition for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
PEORIA, Ariz. — Mariners position players are scheduled to report for mandatory physicals on Wednesday. There will be no formal workouts for those position players already in camp.
The Mariners will have their first full squad workout on Thursday morning. Manager Scott Servais will address the entire group prior to the workout. The speech will outline his expectations, his goals and his philosophies.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “We’re off to a good start. I’m really happy with the way camp has gone and the interaction between the players and coaches and among themselves. Tomorrow will be a big day, everybody will be excited and getting the whole crew together and getting the plan laid out to make sure they all understand what the vision is.”
Servais isn’t afraid to admit that he has practiced the speech and may do it few more times before Thursday morning.
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“Ahhh, yes,” he said. “I’m not going to lie. I’m excited. I think it’s important. This is my 28th Spring Training and I’ve heard a lot of speeches, but you want to be yourself and that’s what I will convey to the group tomorrow. This is who I am and also let them be themselves.”
But Servais even admits that his message won’t have much meaning if the top players like Felix Hernandez, Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager don’t buy into it in some way.
“It’s really, really important, no doubt,” Servais aid. “It’s their team. The game is about the players. You’ve heard me say that before. It will always be about the players. It’s not about me or the coaching staff or our front office, it’s about the players. It’s their team, their clubhouse. So having those guys involved and active and being a part of it is big. But I don’t want those guys to be anything but themselves. They all relate to their teammates differently. If they’re aren’t themselves, then it’s fake and the other players see through it, just like with myself.”
Cruz, who has history with Servais, understood the need for the leaders to set the example.
“With leaders, we need to make sure we do whatever is on the table, whatever he brings,” Cruz said. “I don’t know exactly what it is, but we’re going to have a meeting to make sure we’re eon the same page. It’s all about winning. Whatever it takes.”
Servais and Jerry Dipoto and the rest of the front office have used buzz words like culture and accountability on numerous occasions in this offseason. Now they have to implement it.
“What you are trying to do is create a draft and you pull a lot of people along in that draft,” Servais said. “Part of that draft is your culture. I’m looking forward to talking with those guys. I want those guys to smile. I want those guys to have fun. They’re great players and they’re a big part of what we are going to do moving forward. So just be yourself and have fun. It’s pretty simple.”
*** Servais was asked about Nelson Cruz’s production last season and whether there will be regression with another year of. As the cliche goes, Father Time is undefeated in that contest.
“He had a phenomenal year last year,” Servais said. “That’s not easy when you go to a ballclub, to settle in as quick as he did. He got off a great start, obviously that helps. Is it going to regress? I certainly hope not. But I’m also a realist. I know how the game works. The big thing is, you talk about players, you’re not looking for career years out of everybody. I’m hoping the group we put around Nelson and Robbie (Cano) in the middle of our lineup creates more opportunities for those guys. So maybe we don’t have to rely quite as much on them to do so much every night. But there’s a reason they hit in the middle of the lineup, because they’re great players.
But I am a realist. I understand. The biggest thing with Nelson and all these guys when they get to this point in their career is to keep them on the field. Make sure they’re healthy. If they’re healthy, they run out there and get their at-bats and it usually works out pretty well.”
There is no definitive play for how much Cruz will be at DH or in the outfield.
“I know last year the numbers played out that he actually hit a little better when he was in the field,” Servais said. “And Nelson wants to play the field. I’ve never met a player that doesn’t want to play in the field. But we have to do the right thing and be smart and he does as well, in listening to his body. That’s the advantage of a veteran player. They know how they’re feeling and how to combat when they don’t feel things are going well physically. But the big thing for us is to have him in the lineup 155-160 games. That’s the goal. Is there a set number? No there’s not.”
*** Servais was asked how much track record will go into the decision for the No. 5 starter in the battle for the fifth spot in the rotation between Nathan Karns and James Paxton.
“It could, but I also think you have to go a with a little bit … of what your eyes are telling you, what you are seeing every day in spring training games,” he said. “It’s not so much the results. But how the ball is coming out, is he making pitches, sometimes as you guys know these spring training games can get crazy. You get a bad hop here or some choppers that get through and you have to take it all into context. More importantly, how is the ball coming out of his hand, is he making adjustments, is making pitches, is he ahead in the count. Those types of things play into it. At the end of the day, you can’t get caught up in spring training numbers. If guys have a track record, you have to go back and lean on that.”
Bullpens at 10:40 a.m.
- Group 1: Hisashi Iwakuma, Nathan Karns, Joe Wieland
- Group 2: Ryan Cook, Mayckol Guaipe, Adrian Sampson
- Group 3: Danny Hultzen, David Rollins, Jonathan Aro
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