Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais met with reporters prior to his team’s Sunday afternoon series finale against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field. He gave updates on Felix Hernandez and Norichika Aoki (who is not in today’s lineup), and said he thinks the Mariners are on the verge of “putting together a really good streak here.”
Here’s everything Servais said:
(Felix Hernandez making the road trip?) “Felix is not going to make the trip. Medical staff thought it’d be better for him to stay back and lock in on his treatment here. It’s hard when you’re traveling, to get the treatment and the time set aside for one guy. We have a designated trainer for the guys who stay back, so he’ll stay back and keep building up from there.”
(Any timetable for his return?) “Don’t have it yet. Just have to wait and see until he can start running and doing some other stuff on that leg. Don’t have a definite time frame. I don’t, at this point.”
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(Any concern with the home runs Steve Cishek has allowed?) “No, Steve’s done a really good job for us all year. He’s had a couple hiccups. It’s really hard to go through the season perfect in that role. He has given up a couple homers late this year. That does happen with the way he throws, and to left-handed hitters. But he’s done a really good job for the most part this year, making adjustments. He’s attacking left-handers different than he did last year. So he’s our closer, he’ll remain our closer, we’ll give him the ball today if the opportunity arises, and we’ll go from there. would I like to see the hits be singles or doubles? Yeah. But unfortunately, I don’t have any control over that. They hit some balls good off him.”
(On needing to have a good pitch to throw to lefties in those situations) “Yeah, working in the slider. He’s done a good job this year pitching up to the lefties. From that slot, it’s a very effective pitch. It’s kind of like that pitch he struck out (Rougned) Odor on last night. Kind of runs up in the zone. But he just didn’t get that one last night where he wanted to. It happens. It is part of the game, unfortunately. There’s times this year we’ve been on the other side of it. Leonys Martin hits a walk-off home run, Dae-Ho Lee. It happens. But it’s tough when you get that close. Like I said last night, we play today, we come out and compete, we win the ballgame, we win the series and we move on. I think we’re on the brink of putting together a really good streak here. Streaks are driven by starting pitching, and you talk about winning eight out of 10 or nine out of 11, I really feel we’re about to go off on one of those runs. We’ve got our full squad back, position-player wise, we’re pretty healthy there. but our starting pitching is starting to get back on track, (and) that excites me as much as anything.”
(What makes you feel that way?) “James Paxton. Taijuan Walker. Really starting to get it going again. I think Paxton’s been outstanding. He’s really pumped some life into our starting pitching. Walker getting back on track. Wade’s going to give us a good outing today. Kuma’s been pretty solid throughout. It is starting pitching that drives it, and I feel good where we’re at right there.”
(On how Paxton is different this season) “I can’t speak to what he’s done in the past here. I wasn’t here. I can only see what I’ve seen the last two outings, which is different than anything else I’ve seen this year, which is spring training and that first one in San Diego. He’s been very aggressive. He’s pitching with a little bit of an edge. There’s a little bit more fire and emotion, outwardly, and personality-wise, he usually keeps it all inside. We’re not seeing that. We’re seeing it start to come out.”
(There was a moment in the fifth inning yesterday after a strikeout...) “Big parts of the game. The game kind of comes down to two or three moments like that, and if you win those, you should be fired up about it. I’m happy to see that, and I think he’s having fun.”
(More on Paxton showing emotion) “I don’t care if he’s faking it or not. Who cares? If he gives us 18, 19, 20 outs, whatever it is, he can fake it all he wants. I’m the happiest guy in the world. I think he’ll stay with it, because the results have been pretty good.”
(Surprised by his velocity?) “A little bit. Yeah, it has a lot. Guy’s throwing 98, 99 miles per hour. His ability to carry the velocity that deep in the game is pretty unique. Where his arm slot now – like I said, it’s a little bit lower than it was. It seems like it’s freer for him. It’s not straight over the top. The big pitch for him is the slider. He calls it a cutter, whatever – it’s a slider for me, and his ability to throw that even in counts, deep in counts, and just put something else in the hitter’s head, versus the curveball where they can recognize that a little bit easier.”
(How is Norichika Aoki’s knee?) “He got hit pretty good last night. He said last night he was fine, but where he took (the ball on) the knee, I know he’s had some leg injuries in the past. I just thought maybe today, give him a day, and the day off tomorow will be good. He may end up in the game pinch-hitting or something, but give him a breather today.”