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Mariners’ Scott Servais discusses Canó’s final season in Seattle, losing Cruz and Díaz

Mariners manager Scott Servais received a call before Nelson Cruz signed with Minnesota. (AP)

Conversation about the Mariners’ offseason has been centered mostly around the team’s influx of youth, but when manager Scott Servais joined Brock and Salk for his annual pre-spring training interview at the 710 ESPN Seattle studios Tuesday (listen here), he also shared his thoughts on big-name veterans that have either moved on from the team or will be on the 2019 roster.

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Servais provided insight on the impact Robinson Canó’s return from an 80-game suspension had last season, how he feels about losing Nelson Cruz in free agency and Edwin Díaz in the same trade that sent Canó to the Mets, what to expect from Félix Hernández in 2019 and even shares a story about an interaction he had with new Mariners slugger Edwin Encarnación.

Here’s what he had to say about each of those five players.

Robinson Canó’s return from suspension late last season

“It was great to have him back in the lineup, there’s no question about that, but just the dynamic of our team and our clubhouse, it had changed. When he was out for 80 games, we had some other guys that we needed to step up, not just on the field but in the clubhouse and I felt they did. And then when Robbie came back it was hard. It was trying to shift to get him playing time, we were shifting him around from first base to second base, he even played a couple games at third, and what that did to our team, it just didn’t jive, it didn’t mesh well together.”

Nelson Cruz signing with the Minnesota Twins

“I said to him the last day of the season, ‘Hey, if something happens, you sign elsewhere, just call me.’ And I’ll be danged, the night before he signed with Minnesota I got a call from Nelson Cruz, and he said, ‘Skip, I told you I’d call.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I had an idea this call was gonna happen.’ Great conversation, somebody I’ve been very, very close with, somebody that means the world to me. I knew Nelson Cruz before he became Nelson Cruz, and to kinda see how that’s evolved and what he’s done as a person and how he’s grown. In all the places he’s played, he’s revered, and it’s hard to do that in today’s game with all the different personalities and all the backgrounds that players have. Special, special guy, and I think he’s got a few years left yet in him.”

The player Servais will miss the most

“I’m gonna miss Edwin Díaz, I gotta be honest. There’s no question about it. Seeing how Edi evolved from the young kid that we brought to the big leagues a couple years to just have probably one of the most dominant seasons you may ever see out of a closer – that’s tough to replace, there’s no question. But it’s the price of doing business, and in today’s game you have to be forward-thinking, you have to look out ahead. I was hoping we could hang on to him through all of this because he does kinda become your safety blanket as a manager, like ‘How do we get the ball to Edi?’”

Félix Hernández’s 2019 season

“This is a big year for Félix just career-wise. We saw glimpses of it last year – he’d go out and be really good for five, six innings, keep you right in ballgames, and other nights it wasn’t so good. The consistency, what he needs to do to get going again. And Félix has been quiet this offseason, he really has. I think that’s a good sign.”

Edwin Encarnación and the parrot

The Mariners’ new DH, 36-year-old slugger Encarnación, is well-known for propping up his arm up during his home run trot like he’s holding a parrot. Well, Servais has had some fun in the past with the three-time All-Star’s trademark.

“I would joke with him, when he was on the other club I’d walk up to him, put my arm out and blow like I was gonna blow the parrot off, and he’d laugh,” Servais said. “And then he did happen to hit a home run against us and he looked right at me in the dugout afterwards.”

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