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Mariners’ manager Scott Servais: Nelson Cruz ‘defying the odds’

Mariners' DH Nelson Cruz is entering his fourteenth season as a pro. (AP)

The Mariners open their season tonight against the Cleveland Indians at Safeco Field. A few hours ahead of first pitch, 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Groz and Tom got a bit more insight on this year’s clubhouse by chatting with Mariners manager Scott Servais.

Servais said he feels like he has a better understanding of this year’s team coming out of Spring Training.

“For me personally, the last two years coming into Spring Training and getting things going, we had a big turnover on our roster,” Servais said. “And everybody says, ah, that’s what Spring Training’s for. And there’s nothing that you can compare to the regular season. You think have a good idea about your team, but I thought the last couple years, even when we got into April and (were) working through things, you’re still getting to know players and how the team’s gelling. This year with less turnover, outside of [Dee Gordon, Juan Nicasio, and Ryon Healy], I just feel better about our club leaving Spring Training than I have the last two years, and our understanding of who we are, where we’re at, and how we need to take the next step here.”

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Servais also talked about veteran DH Nelson Cruz, 37, now entering his fourteenth season as a pro. Despite signing with the Mariners at age 34, Cruz has put up some of his best numbers with Seattle.

“He’s doing it as an age guys typically don’t,” Servais said. “He’s defying the odds so to speak. And the way he goes about things, his preparation is as good as anybody I’ve ever been around. The video study, taking care of his body. A clear understanding of how pitchers are going to attack him. What’s great to see is him passing along that information to some other guys in the team meetings: ‘Hey, here’s what he does to me, here’s what he does to right-handed hitters, here’s what he’s doing with guys in scoring positions.’ So, his understanding of hitting and what he’s looking for in the batter’s box is really, really good. And you take that, (plus he is) very strong, very talented, and it’s playing out for him very well.”