France settling in as Mariners host Rangers

Sports

Ty France was in the middle of some very important business when he found out he was traded last weekend.

France was participating in a fantasy football draft with his San Diego teammates on Aug. 30 when Padres manager Jayce Tingler told France he needed to talk with general manager A.J. Preller.

France admitted he isn’t sure how the rest of the draft went after learning he was headed to Seattle, part of a seven-player deal.

“It’s been a crazy whirlwind of emotions,” the 26-year-old infielder said. “This is the first time I’ve ever been traded. This is definitely a crazy experience. We just played the Mariners not too long ago. To be on one side and then flip it over, it hasn’t really hit me yet.”

After getting to know some of his new teammates in workouts while the Mariners’ three-game midweek series with the Oakland Athletics was postponed because of a positive COVID-19 test in the A’s organization, France made his Seattle debut Friday night, batting fifth as the designated hitter. He went 1 for 3, with a run-scoring single in the second inning to open the scoring in a 6-3 victory against the Texas Rangers.

The teams will continue their three-game series Saturday night at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.

France was batting .309 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 20 games for the Padres before the trade. He hit .399 in the Pacific Coast League last season, missing the batting title only because he didn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify after being called up to San Diego.

France credits his hitting prowess to the late Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, for whom France played at San Diego State before being selected by the Padres in the 34th round of the 2015 draft.

“Coming in there as an 18-year-old kid, you look at him and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is Tony Gwynn, the best hitter alive,'” France said. “For me, hitting was my thing. I love hitting, so I went in with the expectation that he was going to make me the next best hitter alive. When you get there, his philosophy was so simple. It was just, ‘Get in position and take your best swing.'”

France and the Mariners (16-22) are scheduled to face Rangers right-hander Kyle Gibson (1-4, 6.16 earned-run average) on Saturday. Gibson is 4-4 with a 3.96 ERA in 11 career starts against Seattle, but took the loss on Aug. 10, allowing four runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings of a game Texas lost 10-2 at home.

The Mariners are set to counter with left-hander Justus Sheffield (2-3, 4.75 ERA). Sheffield is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two career appearances against the Rangers, including a start Aug. 22 at home in which he allowed one run on six hits in six innings, with five strikeouts.

The Rangers (13-24) have lost three games in a row and 15 of their past 18 dating to Aug. 16.

Other than a solo homer by catcher Jose Trevino, Texas had just one baserunner through eight innings Friday, and that one was erased by a double play. The Rangers scored twice in the ninth in the loss.

“We’ve got to find a way to put a little bit more pressure on the other team,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “You’re not going to win too many games if you have one baserunner through eight innings.”

–Field Level Media

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