Ty France isn’t the type to make excuses for his failures at the plate, which haven’t happened often in his professional career.
But when he went from one of the most productive hitters on the Mariners’ roster and in the American League to start the season to a guy who couldn’t buy a hit with a Brinks truck full of money, well, something had to be wrong.
Well, there were a couple of things wrong – pain in his right forearm followed by a bone bruise in his left hand. That makes hitting at the MLB level more than a little difficult.
On April 20 at T-Mobile Park, France took a 98-mph fastball from the Dodgers’ Dustin May off his right forearm. It forced him out of that game, but he refused to let it sideline him in the games that followed. But he would have a different discomfort to deal with five days later when he dove for a ground ball while playing second base. His glove caught the ground awkwardly, jamming his wrist and hand forward.
“It essentially caused a bone bruise,” France said before the game Tuesday. “I tried to work through it.”
But swinging a bat with one or both arms aching isn’t ideal for success.
“It’s tough hitting without a bottom hand,” he said. “I’ll just leave it at that. But it didn’t hurt every single swing, but most swings. It was just a lot of discomfort and I tried to push through it. And it just got to a point where I wasn’t helping the team and I was just hurting myself more. So finally, I said something.”
From the time he took the ball off the forearm until he went on the 10-day injured list May 14, France played 19 games, posting a .159/.266/.232 slash line with five doubles, four RBI, nine walks and 12 strikeouts. By comparison, his first 17 games, when he was healthy, France had a .311/.411/.525 line with four doubles, three homers, 10 RBI, seven walks and 18 strikeouts.
“It was frustrating,” France said of the slump. “But that’s just how the game goes. I think (Francisco) Lindor is going through one right now, and Carlos Correa and Aaron Judge went through it. It’s just the game. It’s part of it, and you’ve just got to do your best to try and fight out of it.”
France admitted the left wrist isn’t quite 100%. It might not get to that point without months of rest. And with the Mariners’ struggles offensively, he knows his presence is needed. He had a solid double to the left-center gap in his second at-bat Monday night.
“I’m just looking to hit some good pitches now that I can do some damage with them,” he said. “Just try to put myself in a good count, being stubborn and selective with pitches and ultimately that will help you get a good result in the at-bat.”
Yusei Kikuchi played catch before the game Tuesday. He had no lingering effects from exiting his start Monday with back spasms. He is scheduled to make his next start, which would be Sunday against the Rangers.