A new dilemma Mariners face after Ty France’s return

Jun 19, 2024, 9:48 AM | Updated: 9:53 am

Seattle Mariners first baseman Tyler Locklear...

Tyler Locklear of the Seattle Mariners during a 2024 game. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners’ lineup took a step closer to reaching full strength Tuesday with first baseman Ty France returning from the injured list.

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France’s return came with an interesting roster decision, which came in the form of designating backup catcher Seby Zavala for assignment and keeping recently promoted prospect Tyler Locklear in the majors.

As a result, Seattle now has two first basemen it’s looking to get in the lineup at least semi-regularly. ROOT Sports color analyst Mike Blowers spoke about the situation during a wide-ranging Mariners discussion Tuesday with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob.

“I’m really intrigued by (Locklear),” Blowers said. “… His defense has been really good over at first base. He’s the guy that has played third base, and I think that going over to first base has made that transition a little bit easier for him compared to third. So we might see him play a little bit of third also.”

Locklear was called up to make his big league debut after France went on the IL with a fractured heel he suffered on a hit by pitch. In his first eight big league games, Baseball America’s No. 83 prospect has slashed .222/.276/.481 slash line and two home runs and been somewhat of a surprise with solid defensive play.

“He’s definitely got power in his bat,” Blowers said. “When I watch him take BP, the ball really jumps off of his bat, so there’s a lot of things to like about him.”

However, France has his own claim for being in the lineup. He has the track record of being an MLB All-Star in 2022, and he was playing well before the injury, slashing .259/.353/.448 with 12 extra-base hits, including five home runs, since the start of May.

“We’re going to see where it all goes, but I don’t see a platoon situation going on with (Locklear) and (France) or anything like that,” Blowers said. “They’re both right-handed hitters, and I think that (France) will get the bulk of the playing time with his experience, but they’re gonna have to find a way to get Locklear some playing time. If not, then he probably will go back (to the minors) because you want him to continue to play.”

Listen to the full conversation with ROOT Sports Mariners color analyst Mike Blowers at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Wyman and Bob weekdays from 2-6 p.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

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