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Third-year manager Scott Servais doesn’t have to play cheerleader for Mariners anymore

Mariners manager Scott Servais has a team able to make opponents uncomfortable. (AP)

Like anything, it takes time to get a baseball team to buy into a new manager’s philosophies. Especially if that manager has never managed a game before, which was the case with Scott Servais when he joined the Mariners ahead of the 2016 season.

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After two years where the Mariners hung in the playoff race but ultimately came up short, Servais’ group has caught fire in 2018, moving into first place in a tough American League West division. And by watching the players, you can see how they’ve fed off their personalities and energy to keep the wins piling up.

It’s something Servais had been hoping to see since he got to Seattle.

“I felt at times here early on in my tenure as manager, I was the biggest cheerleader trying to get some of that stuff to come out,” Servais told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk on Wednesday morning. “… It’s a tribute to our players, and I’ll put Dee Gordon at the top of the list on that and what he’s been able to do. Jean Segura has transitioned into being much more of a leader on our ball club. You see those guys running out, (Kyle) Seager and Cruz-y (Nelson Cruz), they got their little hug thing and all the stuff they do. The other guys have really chimed in on it. It’s been great to see, it’s something when we have a big play in a game or a big hit, from my vantage point just sit back and let the players enjoy it.

“I think the biggest thing that I feel good about is that we’re letting all their personalities come out.”

Servais joked that the team hasn’t exactly taken on his personality (“I have often said I would never want 25 guys on a team like me because it would be boring”), but the camaraderie that the Mariners have built can be credited to the atmosphere he hoped to create. It’s also helped the team turn into what Servais wanted to see on the field, which has factored into Seattle’s 43-24 record and MLB-best 21 wins in 30 one-run games.

“One of the comments I remember making (early on in my tenure) is I want us to be uncomfortable to play against. I truly feel that we are that team,” he said. “Nobody wants to get behind us because our bullpen is really good, yet when they do have a lead we have enough ways to come back in ball games and score runs.

“We’ve got enough speed, we’ve got power, we’ve got different ways of scoring runs because we’re athletic. It’s something that’s not reliant on the home run or somebody banging the ball off the wall. There are a lot of different ways for us to win ball games, and it seems like so far this year every one of those ways has played out.”

You can listen to the full segment with Servais on Brock and Salk in this podcast from Wednesday’s show.

Salk: How Scott Servais has made a difference for the Mariners