Drayer: Mariners’ Ty France back after drastic offseason of adjustments

Feb 21, 2024, 11:45 AM

Never mind additions from the outside. Perhaps the biggest addition to the Seattle Mariners’ lineup in 2024 could be Ty France returning to Ty “He Can Really Hit” France form.

Seattle Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez determined to be even better in 3rd year

The guy who came to the Mariners as a guy who hits, so we will find him a position. The guy we haven’t seen since first half of 2022 when he hit .347 in his first 70 games. Since then, there were injuries that no doubt played a part in his decline. But after finishing last year out of the postseason and with career-low numbers, it was apparent that even France himself was wondering what had happened to that guy.

Change was needed and swing changes were not something France was comfortable with. He had kept his changes to a minimum, believing in his swing, understanding that it was different. For a long time he was able to find answers. But after admitting at the end of the season it had been nearly a year since it felt right, France, who has always been very organic in how he approached his swing, did something that was drastic for him. He entered the lab, and put his swing in the hands of the folks at Driveline Baseball.

“I think for me, I’ve just always hit my whole life and I’ve gotten away with not having someone in the offseason to help guide me, coach me,” he said. “Obviously I’m in touch with JD (Jarret DeHart) and Tony (Arnerich) throughout the offseason, but I’ve always kind of just done things on my own and, you know, obviously last year didn’t go the way I wanted. So I thought it was time to kind of try something new. And I saw how successful J.P. (Crawford) was and how good Driveline worked for him, so I figured if I’m going to start somewhere, might as well start there.”

The feedback at Driveline was immediate, and eye-opening.

“It’s crazy to see how bad my swing was on a mechanical aspect,” he said “They’ve got a lot of technology, a lot of smart guys over there to help. It’s still not perfect. I have created a lot of years of bad habits, so just trying to get as clean as possible and tighten all that up. I think we made a lot of adjustments and a lot of improvements.”

Through the work and breakdowns that utilize technology to leverage biometric data, France learned more about his swing and where it was going wrong. He was hitting primarily with his hands, the sequencing from the ground up was off. If it all goes right, the idea for France is simple: Hit the ball hard. And through his work, France said he has added close to 3.5 mph of bat speed this offseason.

“That was another important thing that we wanted to do and most of it was just by cleaning up my mechanics,” he said. “If everything is done correctly, the swing swing is done properly, my barrel’s in the zone a lot longer and it just gives me more room for error.”

Working with Driveline in the offseason is nothing new for the Mariners. It can easily go hand-in-hand with the player plans they have for both their pitchers and hitters with the coaches touching base with the Driveline staff throughout the winter.

“Our hitting guys have great relationships with the people that are at Driveline” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “I think Driveline’s kind of got an overriding philosophy, so we know if we do not line up with everything they’re teaching or they believe in or whatever you’re having the conversations with them, you understand. You just want to know what those players have been working on. We’ve got a great relationship with the people at Driveline and the fact it’s right down the street from where we live, it helps, for sure.”

Servais is very encouraged by what he has seen from France both in the offseason and in camp.

“I think he looks great,” he said. “I love the fact that he’s worked as hard as he has this offseason. I know it’s going to pay off for him when it’s going to click, but I know it’s going quick. He’s a really good player. He can hit, he’s got track record of it. Being in the best shape he’s been in his life, that’s part of it, too. When you train that way, it brings a certain confidence along with it. I know that guys gain from that. We’ve seen it. I know for myself as a player when you’re trying to make that big of an adjustment, you know you put the work in and when you’re going through in the offseason, you know you’re working harder than anybody else right now. And I think that’s where Ty’s at. That confidence is is definitely there.”

The results will play their way out on the field. Spring training will likely be a time of continued adjustment with the changes, as it was for Crawford last year. Whether or not the changes get France back to the hitter he was remains to be seen.

There is perhaps another outcome. Could the work adjustments actually improve France? Is it possible we have not seen the best of Ty France? Servais has seen changes that leave that door open.

“Ultimately you want to put yourself in a position to maybe handle more pitches within the strike zone,” he said. “He has that ability, he can put the bat on the ball, doesn’t matter who’s pitching, where the pitch is, but kind of shrink his strike zone, so to speak. All the changes with your body and the changes where your swing is and still there’s some mental things there approach-wise that I think can get better for him as well. So I’m very curious.”

More on the Seattle Mariners

Mariners Notebook: Updates on Urías, No. 1 starter spot
Mariners arrive as ‘hungriest team’ Servais has ever had in spring
Mariners Notebook: What’s next for George Kirby?
Why Mariners’ latest addition is worth keeping an eye on
Could Mariners still add Matt Chapman to ‘complete’ roster?

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Mostly Cloudy
High 72° | Low 54°
Roof is open
Angels at Mariners today at 6:40pm

Shannon Drayer

Seattle Mariners France Ty Jorge Polanco...

Brent Stecker

What’s next for Mariners after surprising Ty France news?

Mariners insider Shannon Drayer of Seattle Sports talked about the team's decision to place first baseman Ty France on waivers Monday with Brock and Salk.

6 hours ago

Cleveland Guardians Travis Bazzana MLB Draft 2024...

Shannon Drayer

How Ryan Rowland-Smith helped first Aussie picked No. 1 in MLB Draft

Oregon State 2B Travis Bazzana became the first Australian picked No. 1 in the MLB Draft on Sunday. Ryan Rowland-Smith has helped him since he was 12.

7 days ago

Seattle Mariners George Kirby...

Shannon Drayer

Mariners Insider: How George Kirby is mixing pitches differently now

George being George? This time, it's Seattle Mariners pitcher George Kirby actually taking a step forward from an elite starting point.

11 days ago

Seattle Mariners Austin Voth...

Shannon Drayer

M’s Clubhouse Insider: Local product Voth’s bullpen breakout

How has Austin Voth, a Kentwood High and UW Huskies product, turned into one of the Seattle Mariners' more reliable bullpen arms? He talked to Shannon Drayer.

13 days ago

Seattle Mariners Luke Raley...

Shannon Drayer

Mariners Quick Hits: What’s controllable for offense; Raley’s bunt ability

Mariners insider Shannon Drayer of Seattle Sports shares insight from recent radio pregame shows, including Scott Servais on the offense and a fun conversation with Luke Raley.

13 days ago

Seattle Mariners CF Julio Rodriguez...

Shannon Drayer

Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez putting in extra work to solve struggles

Seattle Mariners CF Julio Rodriguez showed up on the off day Thursday to put in extra work and attempt to solve his struggles at the plate.

24 days ago

Drayer: Mariners’ Ty France back after drastic offseason of adjustments