Notebook: Six days before season opener, Mariners are ‘ready to go’
PEORIA, Ariz. – Tuesday morning, the coaches’ room door opened and a steady stream of Mariners hitters emerged. While at this point of the spring you might expect to see some bleary eyes – guys trudging back to their lockers hours before their umpteenth meaningless Cactus League, perhaps with the feel of a general weariness after what most would agree is at least a week too much of spring training – this group was different.
There was chatter, banter, smiles and yes, energy as they filed by the media and into the clubhouse after their first hitters’ meeting of the season.
“Guys are excited,” manager Scott Servais said. “They are ready to go.”
Servais handles hitters’ meetings different from what we had seen in the past with the Mariners, electing to go with a daily meeting rather than one meeting per series before the first game. Daily meetings have the benefit of keeping important information front of mind – better to hear about the starter on the day of his start rather than three days before – and getting the full group together before each game.
When that group is together, Servais wants the players to drive the meeting.
“It’s important when guys step up and start running it and talking,” he said. “It’s their team, it’s their meeting. I help facilitate it, push it down the road, but they’re a good group. We’ve got a good group of players, good teammates.”
Last year, Servais had a good group of players, a good group of teammates. Many are back and Servais sees them bringing something extra.
“I think they understand where we are at as a team,” he said. “It still gets talked about even today how close we were last year (to the playoffs) and don’t let it get that close again.”
The message is clear, and it is a good one. A message with experience behind it, both on a personal level and as a teammate for many of these guys. We will see how that determination plays out on the field, starting in six days.
Jean Segura, SS
Mitch Haniger, RF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nelson Cruz, DH
Danny Valencia, 1B
Ben Gamel, LF
Taylor Motter, 3B
Mike Zunino, C
Leonys Martin, CF
Felix Hernandez, RHP
Pitchers scheduled to follow: Dean Kiekhefer, Casey Fein, Dan Altavilla, Jonathan Aro, James Pazos. Look for Servais to use Kiekhefer, Altavilla and Pazos situtationally.
• This is the final turn through the rotation before opening day on Monday. The Mariners will back off their starters, having them only throw two or three innings this week to make sure their arms stay fresh.
• Mariners hitters could face a little extra challenge the next two days with Zack Greinke going for the Diamondbacks on Tuesday and Clayton Kershaw the Dodgers starter Wednesday.
• Jarrod Dyson remains out as the Mariners are taking it slow with his sore hamstring. He got 10 at-bats on the minor league side Monday, but did not run the bases. He could test the legs Tuesday. Both the player and the team say he should be ready for opening day.
• Servais confirmed that James Paxton will pitch Game 3 and Drew Smyly Game 4 in Houston.