Mariners infielder Ty France was reinstated from the 10-day injured list Thursday afternoon. France was Seattle’s most productive hitter before he got injured in late June. 

Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto said on his Thursday morning radio show that “you very well should” see France back in the lineup for Thursday night’s game against the Blue Jays.

Hours later, the team tweeted out Thursday’s lineup, including France batting second as the designated hitter. France hopes to reacclimatize on offense before returning to first base by the end of the weekend.

France collided with a base runner June 23 against the Athletics. He came off the base in an attempt to catch a throw, but his glove arm was caught in an awkward position as A’s runner Sheldon Neuse collided with him.

When it happened, France said he initially panicked, assuming the worst: that he’d torn “everything” in his elbow and arm. But the X-rays and MRI showed only a left-elbow sprain, and 14 days since the collision, he’s back in the lineup.

“[I was] able to take a deep breath. … After that, I was in a good spot mentally,” France said Thursday.

Advertising

The swelling and inflammation subsided over the next few days and he was able to work back toward hitting. Now, France said his pain level is “very little, if none.”

“It could have been a lot worse,” manager Scott Servais said. “We fared OK. We needed some other guys to step up and find different ways to score runs, and we have.”

France is one of two finalists for the American League’s All-Star starter at first base. He could receive the first All-Star nod of his career, something he called “surreal.” 

During France’s absence, France and Servais both said the Mariners’ depth has shown. Since France’s injury, the Mariners have gone 9-3.

“Our pitching has been unbelievable, so hopefully, [we] just keep getting them runs and they keep doing their thing,” France said. 

Updates on Kyle Lewis and Mitch Haniger

Dipoto also said he expects outfielders Kyle Lewis and Mitch Haniger to return to the lineup before the trade deadline at the end of July.

Advertising

The Mariners haven’t had Lewis and Haniger in the same lineup this season. As reported by The Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish, Servais said June 28 that there was “light at the end of the tunnel” for the two players’ return, alluding to how their “impact bats” would help the Mariners.

Lewis isn’t quite ready yet, but Dipoto said they want him to play outfield as he comes back. It’ll help with lineup management, Dipoto explained, because the team also acquired Carlos Santana and France has since returned. “We feel like if Kyle can stand out in the outfield for a couple of days a week, that gives us that advantage,” Dipoto said. 

Lewis missed the first 44 games of the season to make sure his right knee had healed fully from surgery. He played in four games, making an instant impact by hitting two home runs. But Houston’s Jose Urquidy threw a slider that struck his head May 28, and he was placed on the seven-day concussion injured list. Lewis experienced symptoms like headaches, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, fatigue and nausea. 

Last week, Lewis began his rehab assignment with the Mariners’ Class AAA affiliate in Tacoma as a designated hitter, going 0-1 with a walk. He played July 4 with the High-A affiliate Everett AquaSox, notching a RBI and two strikeouts. Servais said Lewis is now working on his outfield play with the Mariners.

“It’s as exciting as I can remember feeling about the way Kyle’s running in the last couple of years,” Dipoto said. “And obviously he brings that bat with him, because that’s the big attraction.”

Haniger, on the other hand, was added to the COVID-19 injury list April 16 and missed 12 games. He returned to the lineup April 29 but suffered a right-ankle sprain in his first at-bat and went back on the injured list the following day. 

Advertising

Haniger has been making “great progress” hitting daily, and is “fully into his baseball progression,” Dipoto said.

“They’re so resilient,” Dipoto said on the radio. “There’s a lot of underlying information to suggest that we have a good team here, and as we continue to get healthier through the course of the next few weeks, it’s going to be exciting to see what we can do.”

Notes

— Two players in the Mariners organization won their respective leagues’ Pitcher of the Month awards for their performances during June. Arkansas Travelers (Double-A) right-hander Taylor Dollard went 5-0 last month with a 0.86 ERA in five starts, allowing just three earned runs on 17 hits over 31 1/3 innings, and took home the Texas League award. Everett AquaSox (High-A) right-hander Juan Mercedes went 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA in five games (four starts) in the Northwest League.

— Right-handed pitcher Emerson Hancock will represent the Mariners on the American League team at the Futures game July 16 in Los Angeles. The game showcases baseball’s best big-league prospects. Hancock was selected last year but couldn’t attend because of a shoulder injury.