Servais wins 1st game, and players' respect

Servais wins 1st game, and players' respect

ARLINGTON -- Scott Servais won his first game as a big league manager in the Mariners' 10-2 victory over the Rangers on Tuesday night. But more importantly, he won the respect of his players as well after jumping to their defense in an eighth-inning shouting match with Texas skipper Jeff Banister.

Servais leaped from the dugout and exchanged some choice words across the diamond after Rangers reliever Tom Wilhelmsen -- traded by Seattle to Texas over the winter -- drilled catcher Chris Iannetta in the thigh with a fastball after the Mariners had ripped four straight extra-base hits for four runs off him in his season debut.

"You want your manager to have fire," said Robinson Cano. "That's good. He gets fired up and protecting his guys. That's what you want, a manager that protects you. You don't want a manager who doesn't take care of his players. He's one of those and I'm glad I'm playing for him now."

The Mariners haven't been a team known to play with tremendous fire in recent years, but Iannetta barked long and loud at Wilhelmsen as he walked to first base and Servais immediately joined in as players came out of the dugout.

"It's baseball. We'll leave it at that," said Servais, a former big league catcher who served as the Rangers' farm director for six years before working in the Angels' front office the past four. "We're going to play Texas a lot this year. We certainly know they won the division last year and we have to bring our 'A' game every night. But I was really happy with the way our guys played tonight."

"It was nice to see him fired up," said Nelson Cruz, who homered and doubled in the win. "He showed us he's got our backs. In a situation we needed him, he stepped up."

Said Iannetta: "Every one of us are going to pull for each other. Every one of us are going to stand up for each other. That's just the way this team is. It's part of building chemistry and that's something that started in spring and obviously it's going to continue through the year."

Servais has been pushing that chemistry from the first day of camp, looking for ways to get the players to bond personally so they will have each other's backs on the field. 

"If we want to get to where we want to go, it's going to take everybody … myself, coaching staff, players," Servais said. "And I've said it from the day I got the job, it's OK to show emotion once in a while. It's a serious game and you want to take it seriously. There's a lot of guys livelihood at stake. But it's time to get after it. Obviously there are some things that went back and forth tonight, but it's part of the game."

And to get his first managerial win in such a wacky night?

"Why wouldn't it happen that way?" Servais said with a laugh. "I'm excited. It's a thrill, obviously, to get the opportunity to manage and lead this club. And along the way, we were going to win a game. ... But the way we responded tonight and the guys out of the bullpen did a nice job, that's what it's going to take. It's going to take a total team effort, and that's what the good teams have."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.