ANAHEIM, Calif. — Seated at his locker and lecturing his infield coach Perry Hill about protecting his hairless head from the California sunshine, Ty France was in his typically talkative and sarcastic mood.
“Is your wrist still bothering you?” he was asked.
“Why because I suck at baseball right now?” he said with a wry smile. “No, the wrist isn’t the reason I suck at baseball. You can tweet that.”
France grew momentarily serious, understanding it would be a legitimate reason for why he’s struggled at the plate for perhaps the first time this season.
After jamming his left wrist on a diving stop July 25, France played through some mild discomfort for a handful of games. But a couple of hard swings and misses on pitches aggravated the situation. He sat out four straight games (July 31-Aug. 4) to get the inflammation out of the wrist.
He returned to the lineup Aug. 5 vs. the Angels and had hits in four consecutive games. But he has just two hits in his last 28 plate appearances with two walks and seven strikeouts.
“It’s not the wrist,” France said. “The wrist is fine. That isn’t the reason.”
So what is the reason?
“Probably chasing hits and swinging at bad pitches,” he said. “I should stop doing that.”
Since the four days out of the lineup due to the wrist, France has seen 181 pitches in 49 plate appearances per MLB Statcast data. Of those 181 pitches, 106 were considered “out of the strike zone” based on Statcast data.
France has swung at 43 of those pitches out of the zone (41%). Ten of those swings produced balls in play and just two hits. Of the 75 pitches thrown to France that were considered “in the strike zone,” he’s swung at 58 pitches (77%). He’s fouled off 31 of them and generated 27 balls in play with four hits — three singles and a homer.
From the start of the season to the All-Star break, France was thrown 1,275 pitches. There were 609 pitches that were considered in the strike zone, France swung at 463 of them (76%), generating 85 hits. Of the 666 pitches outside the zone, he swung at only 189 (28%) with 12 hits.
An increase of 13 percentage points in swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone is less than ideal for a hitter with France’s contact skills.
The Mariners need him to return to the form that helped make him an All-Star this season.
“We’ve got to get Ty France going,” manager Scott Servais said. “He is key to our lineup. He’s such a good hitter, and he’s been a little bit of a funk here the last three or four days. We gotta get him back going again.”
Having grown up in West Covina, which is about 30 miles away, France was expecting a large contingent of friends and family in attendance for the last two games of the series in Anaheim.
“I better not suck at baseball,” he joked.
Kyle Lewis expected to start playing for Tacoma
After being optioned to Class AAA Tacoma on Aug. 10, outfielder Kyle Lewis has yet to play for the Rainiers in a game. He took the allotted three days a players is allowed to report to Tacoma but hasn’t been activated to the roster.
He was in the dugout for Tacoma’s Tuesday afternoon 8-4 victory over Albuquerque at Cheney Stadium.
MLB sources said that Lewis is expected to be activated and possibly in the lineup for Wednesday’s game.
Lewis, who was the 2020 American League Rookie of the Year, was stunned by the Mariners’ decision to demote him to Tacoma. But he had been struggling since returning from the concussion injured list, tallying just four hits in 46 plate appearances with five walks and 18 strikeouts.
His inability to play the outfield on a consistent basis and the unpredictability of his availability were also major factors in the decision.
All-Star Game date announced
While it was a bit of a formality with the All-Star Game usually played on the second Tuesday of July, Major League Baseball announced that the 2023 All-Star Game will be held July 11, 2023, at T-Mobile Park.