Along with the rest of the baseball community, Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais took a few moments to reflect on the sudden death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs during his pregame press conference Tuesday.
Skaggs, who was 27, was found unresponsive in his Dallas hotel room Monday. A regular in the Angels’ rotation since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2016, Skaggs has been remembered as a dedicated teammate and friend.
Servais spent four seasons with the Angels from 2012-15, serving as an assistant general manager, and working in scouting and player development.
“Tyler was a great kid,” Servais said. “I was around Tyler certainly when I was in Anaheim. ... Having been around him, I loved the person. He was a really good competitor. Certainly when things like that happen, it’s tragic, not just to the Angels, but all of baseball.”
Servais said he reached out to a few people in the Angels’ organization, including manager Brad Ausmus.
“It’s a tough spot,” Servais said. “When you’re leading a group like that, and something like this happens, it tests you. I just wanted him to know I’m thinking about him, and hopefully they’ll get back on their feet over there, but it will not be easy. It’s hard.”
Los Angeles’ series opener Monday night in Texas was postponed, as was Triple-A Tacoma’s game against the Salt Lake Bees, who are the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate. The Angels took the field again Tuesday in Arlington.
“Playing the game tonight won’t be easy,” Servais said. “But, it is, in my opinion, a little bit of therapy. We’re so tied into routine and what we do in playing the game every day, that you kind of need to get back into the routine, and it does get you away from thinking about things for those three hours that you’re actually playing the game. That’s about the only thing you can do. ...
“It’s a tough deal, man. It’s really hard to get through it. You have to lean on each other, that’s what you have to do.”
Servais reflected on a similar situation he endured when his former teammate and friend, Darryl Kile, who was 33, died suddenly during the season in 2002.
“Darryl Kile was a very close friend of mine, and a similar thing happened — he passed away during the season on the road in a hotel,” Servais said. “It’s tragic. It just goes to show how vulnerable we all are. Sometimes you tend to think you’re struggling in this game, you’re 0-for-50, it doesn’t matter. It’s still just a game we play. There are bigger things than this.”
The Mariners had a better June (12-16 record) than May, where they floundered to a 7-21 mark. Seattle also scored 153 runs during June, which ranked third in the American League.
Servais hopes to keep momentum going during this final week before the All-Star break. The Mariners opened a three-game series against St. Louis on Tuesday, and host Oakland for a three-game set before their four-day break, which begins Monday.
“That week before the All-Star Game I think is always a crucial week, in the fact that guys start looking ahead,” Servais said. “I thought we played really good baseball on the road trip. We won a couple in Milwaukee, I thought we could have won a couple more in Houston, didn’t happen, but we have some momentum going in how we’re playing, and we need to keep that going in this homestand.
“They’re human beings. They want a break and are looking forward to spending a little more time with their families or whatnot. I was the same way when I played. But, we have a job to do. … I think it’s important we continue to play good baseball going into the break.”
▪ Mitch Haniger (ruptured testicle) was scheduled to meet with a doctor Tuesday after returning home early from Seattle’s series in Houston. “He tried to pick up his activity a little bit on the road and didn’t feel all that great. … We just had to slow him down for a couple days,” Servais said. Haniger is projected to resume baseball activity during this homestand.
▪ Hunter Strickland (lat strain) will throw a bullpen Saturday, and is playing long toss up to 200 feet.
▪ Felix Hernandez (lat strain) could get in some mound work this weekend. He said he is playing catch every day up to 105 feet.
▪ Sam Tuivailala (Achilles) has made three minor league rehab appearances since being sent out on assignment for a second time after remedying some difficulties with his throwing arm. He most recently tossed a scoreless inning with one walk and two strikeouts for Double-A Arkansas on Sunday.
▪ Brandon Brennan (shoulder strain) is in Arizona rehabbing and will throw a bullpen Wednesday. Servais is hopeful to have him back after the All-Star break, either on the first road trip or first homestand.
▪ Connor Sadzeck (elbow inflammation) is also in Arizona and has started playing catcher after receiving a cortisone injection.
▪ Braden Bishop (lacerated spleen) has a follow-up appointment on July 10, and will not resume baseball activity until cleared by doctors.
▪ Chasen Bradford (forearm strain) has not resumed activity since being transferred to the 60-day IL, and likely won’t for at least a couple weeks.
▪ Ryon Healy (lower back stiffness) is also in Arizona and has not resumed baseball activity yet.