Servais promises fun with 'Whatever It Takes'

Mariners feature better speed, defense and power arms

Servais promises fun with 'Whatever It Takes'

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Scott Servais likes to put a theme to his team at the start of Spring Training. And this year the motto he's rolling out for the Mariners is "Whatever It Takes," which is his way of acknowledging this club is ready to take the next step and do everything possible to make that happen.

"The 'Whatever It Takes' thing is kind of, for me, where we're at as an organization. Our time is now," Servais said Tuesday as his pitchers and catchers reported to camp for physical exams before taking the field for the first time on Wednesday.

"I think it's been made loud and clear from the front office and [general manager] Jerry [Dipoto] and ownership that they feel good about our core, and the group we brought in around it should really help prop everything else up. We're very deep. The depth created is very nice to see, because we went through a lot of guys last year."

Servais expects 42 pitchers and catchers to hit the field Wednesday, with only veteran reliever Jean Machi -- a non-roster invitee -- likely missing due to travel issues. Of that group, 20 are new to the organization this offseason as Dipoto again has reshuffled the roster significantly around his returning nucleus.

Outlook: Smyly, SP, SEA

But Servais has his entire coaching staff back and the familiar comfort of having his first season as a manager under his belt, as well as established relationships with the returning group that helped fashion an 86-76 record a year ago.

The motto in 2016 was "Are you ready?" and Servais felt that helped frame the club's initial emphasis and work on fundamentals and philosophies.

"We talked about our preparation and how it had to improve, and I think we did a good job there, from our everyday work to how we were preparing in meetings and how we took the analytical information and all the numbers, and put that in play," he said. "We were really prepared and we'll build on that this year. But this year's a little different theme. Whatever it takes. Whatever from a staff standpoint to get our guys ready and be consistent so they're ready to play."

Servais acknowledges that there is some starting over each spring and that this club will need to establish its own identity and work ethic.

"One thing I learned early on as a player is that every year is different," he said. "You always think whatever happened last year is going to carry over. But we have a different team. Is it all going to gel together and how quick is it going to come together?

"On paper, I like our team a lot. I think we may be a tick better than we were last year. But it doesn't always play out that way, so hopefully, we can bring the team together earlier."

Servais believes this year's group features better speed and defense, as well as more power arms in the bullpen. He's eager to challenge opposing pitchers with the baserunning threat of newcomers Jarrod Dyson and Jean Segura. It was something he talked about last spring, only to see the club wind up being more of a power offense that hit the second-most home runs (223) in the American League.

Dyson looks to impress in 2017

"We'll see how it plays out," he said. "I sat here last year and said this is exactly what we want, and it didn't quite play out that way. We found a way to get it done a different way. But yes, the style of play and making the other team uncomfortable and having some swag to us when we take the field and how we go about our business, I think this is the type of team I'd hope we would have.

"I think this is the type of team fans in the Northwest can connect with because it's going to be fun to watch."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.