PEORIA, Ariz. -- As Scott Servais opened his first full-squad workout on Tuesday, the third-year manager wasted no time acknowledging the biggest thing that has been missing for the Mariners.Seattle hasn't been in the playoffs since 2001, the longest dry spell in the Major Leagues. And yes, Servais said, it's
PEORIA, Ariz. -- As Scott Servais opened his first full-squad workout on Tuesday, the third-year manager wasted no time acknowledging the biggest thing that has been missing for the Mariners.
Seattle hasn't been in the playoffs since 2001, the longest dry spell in the Major Leagues. And yes, Servais said, it's time to change that.
"There's a few guys out there that have worn a Mariner uniform for a long time and haven't got the experience to play in the playoffs yet," Servais said. "I know there's a fanbase that is very hungry for it. I know I'm dying for it. So why not? We'll address it a little bit and embrace it."
The Mariners, who finished third in the American League West last year at 78-86, will tire quickly of hearing about having the longest postseason drought of any major professional franchise now that the Buffalo Bills made the NFL playoffs. But there's only one way to quiet that talk.
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"It's out there," Servais said. "I think we have a really good team. Our division is really good. There'll be a lot of challenges along the way, and we'll have to face some adversity, all those things that play out through the course of the year. But I think the goal is clearly defined on what we're shooting for, and now we have to figure out how to get there."
After five days of strictly pitchers and catchers on the field for formal workouts, the position players joined the fray Tuesday. With Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager and newcomer Dee Gordon leading the way, the energy level clearly picked up.
"It's exciting when you get the whole team out here," said Seager. "It's time to meet the new guys, get to know everybody a little bit and see where this thing goes."
Seager is encouraged by the addition of Gordon to the top of what figures to be a potent lineup. Hitting behind the foursome of Gordon, Jean Segura, Cano and Cruz is a welcome spot for the 30-year-old third baseman.
"We're going to score some runs," Seager said. "Obviously the two guys ahead of me have been there the last couple years, and hitting behind them has been awesome. They're talking about pushing Segura into the two-hole, and that fits him, too, the way he hits the ball and the way he can go the other way and all that type of stuff. It has potential to be pretty fun and pretty dynamic."
Servais wasted no time driving home a point that will be pursued all spring. The club wasn't good on the basepaths last year, and those little things can add up. So it was no coincidence the first drill of the opening day centered on baserunning, and the team later worked on defensive bunt drills.
It's a condensed time frame this spring, with Cactus League games starting Friday, but Servais will keep conducting baserunning drills throughout the spring and continue focusing on areas that must improve to take that next step.
With most of the team returning intact, Servais hopes the Mariners will be able to get off to a quicker start this season after a 2-8 stumble out of the gate led to an 11-15 April last year.
"I believe it's a real advantage that we don't have as many new faces in the room," he said. "There are a few new ones in there. Obviously our center fielder, first base, we've got a few new pitchers. And that's great. That's exciting, too. But the core of our group is back and intact and ready to go."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.