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Manny Acta on Mariners’ success: ‘It’s a credit to Scotty and the atmosphere he’s created’

Mariners bench coach Manny Acta spoke about learning from manager Scott Servais. (AP)
LISTEN: Manny Acta on the starting rotation and his highlight of the 2018 season

The Mariners are off to one of the best starts in franchise history, but the team’s success, while exciting, can also seem inexplicable.

Seattle lost second baseman Robinson Canó to an 80-game suspension in May and has dealt with a slew of injuries throughout the year, most recently relievers Juan Nicasio and Dan Altavilla. But thrilling, if not nerve-wracking, wins have been piling up; they’ve had six contests head into extra innings (where they’re a perfect 6-0) and lead the league in one-run wins (20 after Friday’s 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay).

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Mariners bench coach Manny Acta credits Scott Servais’ managerial style as at least one factor in Seattle moving into first place in the division amidst adversity. Acta explained what he’s seen from Servais and the clubhouse when he joined Mike Salk and guest host Danny O’Neil on Brock and Salk on the phone from Tampa Bay.

Acta used an example of a play from a 5-4 win Thursday to show how the vibe created by Servais is helping the Mariners on the field.

“It helped that we had already the lead and that the guys are playing loose,” Acta said, responding to a question about shortstop Jean Segura’s heads up baserunning to score from first on a Mitch Haniger single that just found its way into shallow right field. “And it’s a credit to Scotty and the atmosphere he’s created here. These guys are really getting along and being happy on the field. They can’t wait to get to the field every single day because they enjoy being together and they feel like they can win every single day, which is the feeling you want to get when you have a baseball club.”

While Acta has his own history as a former manager with Cleveland and Washington, he said he’s learned about the changing culture of baseball through working with Servais, who had never managed at any level until joining the Mariners in 2015.

“It just gets better because times have changed,” Acta said. “You’ve just got to let guys be themselves. A lot of the rules that managers used to have in baseball have completely disappeared … it’s just gotten better. Guys love to be themselves and we as coaches need to understand that. This is not college baseball anymore, this is not little league, this is the big leagues. It has always been different but nowadays with the way the young guys are, everybody just wants to have their own personality and dress the way they want to and be loud if they want to be and all that kind of stuff. And so we just step aside and teach – we don’t stop teaching – but you still communicate, which has always been in the game and it’s huge. Every human being wants to know what’s going on and be part of whatever decision you’re making… that being said, they want to feel involved and also they just want to be themselves.

“And these guys, they’re happy. They’re happy with the way they’re being treated and that’s what it’s all about. You want to show up to work every day and go with people that really want to fight with you.”

You can hear the full segment with Acta in this podcast.

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