Servais sees plenty to like in the Mariners Cactus League opener
By Shannon Drayer
One spring game in the books for the Mariners and so far, so good.
“It was really, really a fun day,” Scott Servais said of his first game as a manager. “We were ready to play and our guys showed up. Really good effort and it is nice to get off to a great start.”
James Paxton provided the start of the good start, pitching two innings, allowing no hits, one walk and one strikeout. He accomplished his goal of establishing fastball command and then working in his pitches including the changeup he would like to use more this year.
“My stuff, as far as the changeup, cutter, curveball, it feels like it was a really good starting point,” he said. “You don’t get as much time to work on your pitches but we mixed in more changeups because I am still trying to get that going and it felt great.”
“He’s off to a good start, he’s worked his tail off,” said Servais who was pleased with the pitching start to finish in the 7-0 win over the Padres.
“Obviously we threw strikes, we were ahead in the count for the most part, I think Nuno threw the ball very well, everyone knows Tony Zych has got a great arm,” he said.
Mariners pitchers limited the Padres hitters to just four hits and walked two while striking out eight. Offensively, the bats stood out as well.
“We were very competitive,” said Servais. “Off the top of my head I think we struck out just once today (they struck out twice) but a lot of 0-2 1-2 reprieves. We get back to 3-2 and make things happen those are positive things.”
Chris Iannetta hit a 2-2 slider left over the plate out to left to score the first two Mariners runs. Franklin Gutierrez also hit a 2-2 offering to dead away center, hitting the batters eye above the yellow line, good for his first home run of the spring.
“It’s great when you hit the ball and you feel like you hit it good. It’s a great feeling,” Gutierrez said. “I have been working the whole off season on my body and trying to feel stronger any way possible and when you got a game and can show what you can do and it happens, you just enjoy it.”
Guti reported to camp at a good weight and with a good outlook coming off proving to himself last year that he can manage the Ankylosing Spondylitis and still play. Does he feel good enough to play a handful of games in center if needed, something Jerry Dipoto said they might ask him to consider?
“I don’t take that position out of my mind,” said Gutierrez. “Obviously I have to feel how my legs feel this whole spring training. It just depends how I feel and if I can do it, I will get out there and do it.”
Other offensive standouts, Ketel Marte came back from down in the count to draw a walk in his first at bat. He stole second but then was picked off when he took a lead a little too far from the bag. He knew it right away and ran back to the dugout with his head down. No doubt that will be on his mind the next time he is on base. Seth Smith was 2-2, Robinson Cano had a laser shot to left for a single and Stefen Romero showed his power with an opposite field solo shot. Iannetta in addition to the home run picked up another RBI with a sac fly to center. Scoring the runner from third with nobody out was a welcome sight for all.
“The approach was really good,” said Servais. “We got guys in from third, and we are really aware of it. We know how valuable and important it is going to be for us.”
Tomorrow we get our first look at Nathan Karns.