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Drayer: Offseason planning begins between Servais and Mariners players

Scott Servais will discuss offseason planning this week with Mariners players. (AP)

Mariners manager Scott Servais did not need math or magic numbers to know when his team was eliminated from playoff contention. Officially that moment came when the A’s beat the Twins Saturday night on a walkoff wild pitch, but the reality of the situation had been there for some time.

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“I think the finality of it set in before the number mathematically eliminated (us) or whatever it was,” said Servais. “You have to give Oakland credit. They put together quite a run. They did not back off.”

The A’s did what the Mariners were unable to do in the second half. Servais pointed out that they pitched well start to finish, and once they got going together as a unit they never took a step back.

“How they have won games, when you have a season like that, that’s what you do,” he said. “We thought we were on that track. We got derailed for a couple of different reasons. You have to give them a ton of credit.”

While the remaining games this week may be meaningless in terms of postseason possibility, they are not without value for individuals, according to Servais.

“You never know when something is going to click,” he said. “Sometimes you find something at the plate, on the mound and you carry it over into next year and into your career. It can happen at any time.”

It will not be business as usual this week for the Mariners. The pregame work will be put in but there will also be offseason planning conversations and meetings with players. We saw hints of it on the road trip – the manager’s door was closed more often and walks with coaches on the warning tracks hours before the games were scheduled to start. The conversations will continue this week.

“Some guys need to just sit down and talk,” said Servais of the player meetings. “More than talk, it is to listen. Some things that they recognize that they want to improve upon, things they could have done differently or better. What their offseason plans might be. It allows me to interject on things myself or the coaching staff see.”

These conversations are different than the ones that are had during the year. Once the baseball season begins they are most often about maintenance, tweaks and smaller fixes. With the offseason comes real time to break things down and make more substantial adjustments when needed.

“The real changes, whether it is mindset or mechanics, they happen in the offseason,” said Servais. “It’s really hard to change things during the season. It’s really important the guys have a good plan when they leave here.”

While each player has his own offseason routine – which more and more these days involves outside help be it trainers, nutritionists, swing doctors, sports science and biomechanic professionals – the organization and Servais look to have input as well. Servais believes that with so many options available today, it is about not just working harder, but smarter. Coaches, trainers and Servais himself will give input and check in with players during the offseason, but ultimately it is up to them to drive their own offseason programs.

“At the end of the day on the back of your baseball card or now Baseball Reference page, it never says who your manager was, who your batting or pitching coach was. It’s you. That’s your career,” said Servais. “As you give opinions of what you would like guys to do, ultimately they don’t have to do it. It’s their career. I think when guys start to take ownership of it, that’s when you see start to see real change happen.

“I certainly have an opinion,” he continued. “Whether it’s a veteran or not, sometimes veterans need to change their plan because they are not getting the results they are looking for. If you keep training the same way you probably are going to get the same results. I’ve had some of those discussions with guys.”

The work on 2019 has already begun with the meetings and conversations that have been taking place. The reveals on the offseason work will come in spring training. The results in the regular season will tell the tale.

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