BUMP AND STACY
Scott Servais addresses big hurdles struggling Mariners currently face
Scott Servais has certainly seen better days during his time as the Seattle Mariners manager.
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The M’s are 29-39 going into a road series that begins Tuesday night in Oakland against the Athletics, and sitting 10 games under .500 in mid-June is not what was expected for a team that came into the season with playoff aspirations. Rock bottom for Seattle so far came on its most recent homestand where the Mariners dropped three straight series, including four losses in a five-game set against the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend.
“We’re not playing very good baseball at all,” the skipper said Tuesday during the weekly Scott Servais Show on Seattle Sports. “Certainly the last homestead was pretty brutal, quite frankly, and everybody knows that, realizes that.”
So how are Servais and the Mariners trying to navigate the hurdles they currently face? Below are transcripts from some of the responses Servais had in his conversation with Mariners insider Shannon Drayer and Bump and Stacy’s Michael Bumpus and Stacy Rost.
Getting back on track
“We can go one of two ways with this thing – we can sit and feel sorry for ourselves and ‘woe is us,’ or you can sit down, ‘OK, here’s where we’re at, here’s what we’re learning about our team and we’ve got to find a way to make some adjustments.’ And we talk about it all the time, but what are those adjustments?
“… Baseball, it’s a team sport, but it’s really individual. When you’re in the batter’s box, your teammates aren’t helping you, your coaches aren’t helping you, and you’ve got to make those adjustments yourself. So, you know, (we’re) trying to help give young players the tools to get through the rough spot we’re in right now. It’s going to be a collective effort that gets us through it. We’ve had some good discussions in talking with players and groups of guys on what it’s going to take to get us going back in the right direction, and we can talk all we want – we gotta go out and do it. That’s the nature of professional sports.
“There’s not a team out there that doesn’t go through slumps and slides and is in a downturn at certain points of the season. We’ve got to turn it around, and there’s no special thing you can throw at them or talk about, there’s nobody riding in on a white horse to fix it all. We’ve got to figure it out ourselves, and we will. I do believe in our group. We’re not playing up to our capabilities right now, and we know. You’ve got to continue to work, you’ve got to believe that you can get it turned around – we certainly do but it’s got to start right now. Can’t do anything about the homestand we just had, it was brutal, we did not play good baseball. We know that. We gotta go forward and get it going in the right direction on this trip.”
The Mariners’ issues with stranding runners
“We’ve got to do more offensively. That’s the name of the game. We’ve got to continue to create opportunities, and when we get guys on base, change our mentality a little bit of what we need to do to get those guys in. You really just do what the game calls for. Don’t try to do too much. Sometimes a game calls just for hitting the ball up the middle or hitting the ground ball to the opposite field, hitting a sac fly, get the guy in. And in doing that and trying to do the little things, sometimes bigger things happen. And that’s kind of where our mentality needs to be here as we look forward to this series in Oakland.”
Does Servais lean on a clubhouse leader during team slumps?
“Absolutely. It’s not just one guy – I think it’s a group of small group of guys, the guys that you have been with you the longest and have gone through some ups and downs with you in the past. A couple of those guys are hurt right now, obviously Mitch Haniger and Tom Murphy are guys that have been with us here for a while. So, you know, you look to the J.P. Crawfords and Ty Frances of the world, guys like that. We know they have the ability to take the next step a little bit and help around in our clubhouse and help lead and things like that. It’s a collective group of guys, and (it’s) not just talking to them but listening to them, as well. I think that’s really important. I think no matter what you’re doing, if you’re leading a baseball team or football or any business, certainly you’ve got ideas and things you want to input on players, but you also need to listen to them and where they’re at and what they’re seeing.”
Helping struggling players new to the team
“You really don’t know players – really anybody – until you live with them. You’re going through a season and you see them when they’re going good, you see how they react to things when things aren’t going well. The first thing you do is you just look at the track record. When this player is going well, what is he typically doing? Where are the pitches he hits well in the strike zone? Is he swinging at the right pitches? Is he hitting the ball all over the field like he typically does? Is he a typically an opposite-field hitter or is he a pull guy? Is he doing something different than the numbers say? So you identify those things, and then you’re always gonna look at video and things like that when you break down his mechanical swing.
“The hardest thing, I talked about earlier, is building that trust with players and figuring out which buttons to push. There’s some guys that need to get kicked in the butt once in a while – you gotta be firm and honest and direct, and they respond to it. There’s other guys that don’t respond very well to that, and those are the other guys you got to kind of put your arm around them and try to get them moving in the right direction. You’re trying to lead them to the water and hopefully they’ll drink it. So that’s the art of coaching; it is not a science.
“… Certainly all the players at our level have had tremendous success throughout their careers as amateurs, as pros, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the big leagues. So they all should have something to fall back upon, and that’s what you try to do as a coach, certainly when you’re dealing with guys that you don’t have a long track record with, and try to get them back in a positive mindset (which is) as big as anything because I think people understand how mental baseball is and how important confidence is. So you want them thinking the right things, feeling good about where they’re at physically and mentally when they’re in the box, and then let it go from there. But it can be a challenge. It takes a while to build those relationships.”
Catch The Scott Servais Show at 1 p.m. every Tuesday on Seattle Sports Station 710 AM when it leads off The Dugout, an hour of Mariners interviews and analysis during Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy. A podcast of the full Scott Servais Show can be heard at this link or in the player near the top of this post.
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