SHANNON DRAYER

Robinson Cano most proud that the Mariners played ‘as a family’

Oct 2, 2016, 12:26 PM | Updated: 12:44 pm

While the morning clubhouse rarely changes, this Sunday was very different for the Mariners. The music was on and guys were rolling in in their sweats, a lineup was posted and there was traffic between the training room and the locker room, but there were boxes in front of lockers. Had Seattle won Saturday night there would have been bat bags and suitcases ready to go if more fell their way Sunday. It was a tough sight to see as nobody wanted this season to end quite yet.

Despite the odds that hadn’t been in their favor, there was a belief in that clubhouse that the Mariners would be playing at the very least an extra game. Addressing his team after the loss Saturday was not easy for manager Scott Servais as he was not prepared to make an end-of-the-year speech. He believed they would still be playing next week.

Nelson Cruz said it had felt like the Mariners were writing the script in the last few weeks with so many things going their way. While they may need to work on the ending to that script, Robinson Cano believes there is a lot to be taken from the journey start to finish.

“I think the guys did a great job,” Cano said Sunday morning. “Nobody thought we would make it this far and be able to fight to the end. It’s something that I take a lot of pride in, especially with what we saw from the young guys. Guys who came from other teams, guys who got hurt and came back. It was an up-and-down season but we fought to the end.”

While Cano put up one of his best years numbers-wise, he says he takes even more pride in what he was able to do as a teammate. Cano, along with Cruz, Kyle Seager and Felix Hernandez, was instrumental in helping first year manager Scott Servais instill a culture in spring training in a manner that was perhaps a bit unconventional. Their buy-in, however, was paid off, according to Cano.

“All the things that the manager does to keep us together, we learned so much about ourselves, each other. We were able to play together not only as a team, but as a family.”

There were challenges to building that family and keeping it together with drastic roster turnover from the previous year and more throughout the season, yet the team continued to take steps forward. Thirty-one pitchers and one shortstop took the hill for the Mariners this year. At one point, three starting pitchers were on the DL at the same time. There was a switch at closer, and in the last week rookies stepped to the plate in crucial situations in must-win games.

That all happened on the field. Off the field there was the Swelmet, the M’s Olympics, Super Hero day and a number of team activities. All of this contributed to what no doubt is a new expectation of team, on and off the field, for the group in the clubhouse that finished the year with the team.

We will get into the numbers, the evaluations and the next steps in the coming weeks, but Sunday morning was more about what can’t be quantified but should not be undervalued. A tough season to see end, but a season which should raise expectations.

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