PEORIA, Ariz. — This was not the day expected or desired, but it's the day Scott Servais and Jerry Dipoto were given to endure by their former boss and his calamitous comments that have rocked the organization.
The entire collection of around 70-plus players invited to Major League camp for the Mariners took to the field Tuesday for their full-squad workout. With a bright sun and temps expected in the mid 70s, the conditions were perfect for a day that should've been about hope, possibility and optimism for the season ahead, or even a day about, well, baseball.
Instead, both men were still trying to mop up the mess left by former CEO and president Kevin Mather and trying to turn the focus to baseball instead of all the incendiary things were said in a 45-minute Zoom call with the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club.
Dipoto was made available to the local media on an unexpected video conference call early Tuesday.
"I thought it was important to get with all of you before your time with Scott as our full staff and our players are in camp for their first day," Dipoto said. "Just to take a chance to address at least the baseball portions of what has happened over the course of these last 74-75 hours. It's been a difficult couple of days ... for our players, for our staff, for me, our baseball operations team, and all of the Mariners, that's the reality. I think the most important thing was to spend some time with you answer the baseball questions, and just re-humanize our players."
Mather managed to not only insult or offend several individual Mariners players by name, but he also angered larger groups, specifically Latin American and Asian players.
As the general manager, Dipoto still has to walk through all that was wrought by Mather and somehow repair the damage moving forward.
"We need to be sensitive and make sure that they understand where we are, and frankly to address the stigma that's now associated with our team, which I don't think is the way we see ourselves, and that includes our players and our staff," Dipoto said. "It's something I hope we're able to shed pretty quickly and get back to who we are. But we can't get beyond the situation that exists today. And we have to address it head on."
Servais relishes the first day of full squad workouts to deliver his opening speech, which outlines expectations and goals on the micro and macro levels for each day and the entirety of the season. It's something he puts a great deal of research, thought and preparation into each offseason.
Mather's comments made sure that wouldn't go on as previously planned.
"I'm very grateful for how they've handled everything that's happened in the last 48-72 hours, and it doesn't surprise me," Servais said of his players. "It really doesn't. We talk about doing the right thing, and they continue to do it and it's because of the character of this group. We talk about character, and what adversity does. Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it. And I really like what I've seen in how we've handled this so far. It hasn't been easy."