Mariners give manager Scott Servais multiyear extension
By TIM BOOTH
SEATTLE (AP) The Seattle Mariners will have some continuity in the managerial chair for a change.
Seattle signed Scott Servais to a multiyear contract extension Friday as the club opened the second half of the season in position to potentially end the longest current playoff drought in the four major pro sports.
The extension was a reward after Servais led Seattle to a 58-39 record prior to the All-Star break and a hold on the second wild-card spot in the American League. Seattle hasn't been to the postseason since 2001.
"I'm still learning and I look forward to learning," Servais said. "It's about our players and how we prepare and how do we beat the opponent. You constantly are trying to get better at this. I'd like to say I have it all figured out; far from it. And I don't see myself ever being that way."
Servais is 222-199 since arriving in Seattle in 2016, the first managerial job of his career. Seattle went 87-75 in Servais' first season, before dipping to 78-84 last year as Seattle was mired in injury issues. Servais, 51, previously worked in the front offices of the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers.
Servais' extension was expected the moment general manager Jerry Dipoto signed an extension earlier this month. Both arrived in Seattle on three-year contracts prior to the 2016 season and their long-term future with the club was tied together.
"Probably the worst-kept secret in the game. If I got mine, he was going to get his," Dipoto joked.
What's notable about the Servais extension is the rare continuity it will create in Seattle. Assuming nothing unexpected forces a change, Servais will be just the third manager in the club's history to begin a fourth season in charge of the Mariners. Darrell Johnson, the team's first-ever manager in 1977, was let go midway through his fourth season in 1980. Lou Piniella was Seattle's manager from 1993-2002.
Since Piniella left after the 2002 season, Seattle had eight different managers or interim managers over the following 13 seasons. Only one - Eric Wedge - completed three full seasons in charge of the club.
"If I had to pick one single-most important thing in any organization, that's it. It's that synergy, that connection, the communication between the general manager and manager," Dipoto said. "Any other relationships in the organization can be solved or you might be able to build a bridge between them, but if the manager and general manager don't see things on a similar plane or have the ability to debate and arrive at a conclusion that works for everybody, you'll never win."
Despite the uncertainty about his future entering the season, Servais has been more relaxed and at ease. He's given up some control to his coaching staff this season, which he believes is part of why Seattle is in playoff position.
"I just took a different approach in spring training this year. I think a year or two of doing things you gain confidence, you have an understanding of what will work, what won't work," Servais said. "But at the end of the day you have to go with your gut and I just wanted to be myself. I wanted my coaches to be themselves. I lean much more heavily on our coaches this year than I did the previous two years."
Servais is a leading contender for AL manager of the year because of what Seattle has accomplished. The Mariners have overcome a number of key injuries and the suspension of Robinson Cano for 80 games to get into position for a playoff berth. They were in much better shape two weeks ago before dropping seven of nine games prior to the All-Star break and watching their lead for the second wild card shrink to just three games over Oakland.
"We've put ourselves in position. We've talked about bringing playoff baseball back to the Pacific Northwest and we've got a shot," Servais said. "It's not going to be easy, we talked about it with our group frequently, but the goal here for the remainder of this season ... is how good can we be? How good can the 2018 Mariners be? If we get to the point where I think we can we'll be just fine in the playoff race."
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Updated July 20, 2018