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Servais discusses 2017 expectations in Q&A

Manager gives thoughts on Felix, lineup, Opening Day and more
March 30, 2017

PEORIA, Ariz. -- With the regular season fast approaching, here's a question-and-answer session with Mariners manager Scott Servais:MLB.com: What should we expect from Felix Hernandez as he opens a new season after last year's frustrations?Servais: He's taken a little different approach to it. I think he's probably in a little better

PEORIA, Ariz. -- With the regular season fast approaching, here's a question-and-answer session with Mariners manager Scott Servais:
MLB.com: What should we expect from Felix Hernandez as he opens a new season after last year's frustrations?
Servais: He's taken a little different approach to it. I think he's probably in a little better shape. He may even have a little chip on his shoulder that he wants to prove to people that he still is Felix Hernandez. He's getting a little older. There are different ways to go about it. But shooting for good results and getting off to a good start, Opening Day is huge for us.
Felix takes refined approach into 9th OD start
MLB.com: How different is your new lineup with the speed element at the top?
Servais: I think we're going to have a really explosive offensive team. We hit a lot of home runs last year and probably surprised a lot of people, including myself. I didn't see us having that much power, but it's kind of the way it played out. The ball carried a little better in Safeco Field than it has in the past. But I think the different ways of scoring runs, we have some more speed on this team than maybe we had last year. We're much more athletic in the outfield, so run prevention is also a big part of this thing.

MLB.com: Of all the new faces, Jean Segura seems like a difference maker. What do you expect from him at short?
Servais: I think he's ready to take the next step in his career. He goes back to shortstop this year after playing second base last year. He's very comfortable at short, certainly has plenty of arm, really comfortable with [Robinson] Cano at second base. Those guys are inseparable. I think they'll really feed off each other. Jean had a great offensive year last year. We'll take anything close to that this year again with the other guys behind him in the lineup. Him being on base, stealing bases -- I think it adds a nice dynamic piece to the top of our lineup.
MLB.com: What is the key for this year to really be a success and take things to the next level?
Servais: I think consistency throughout the season. We did have some tough losing streaks last year. A credit to our team, we did bounce back. I thought we finished the season very strong because we developed kind of a family atmosphere around our team where guys really believed in each other. I think that carries over from last year's team to this year in hopefully getting us off to a quick start. I think any team, it's staying healthy. I think the bullpen is huge, and winning the games you're supposed to win will be really big for us. We played 60 one-run games, and we were 30-30. We need to do better in those games. It's execution, a play here or there that can change the way a ballgame goes.
MLB.com: You've been in a lot of different roles in baseball. What does Opening Day mean to you when you step out on that line?
Servais: I think everybody that has a uniform on and even the guys upstairs in our front office that have put the team together each year, you have a few butterflies. You're anxious, you're nervous. Players want to get that first hit or get the first guy out if they get on the mound. From my standpoint, you want to get that first win and get off on a good start and get it going. But that anxiousness, those butterflies, that's a good thing. That means the game still means something to you and you love the competitive atmosphere. Our guys are looking forward to it. I certainly am. It's my second year, and I can't wait to get going.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [


@GregJohnsMLB]() and listen to his podcast.