Todd Frazier spent 11 long weeks in Port St. Lucie, amid the strip malls and the palm trees, waiting for his left oblique to heal. He watched every Mets game, he said, rooting the team on from afar. He would text the guys when they did well and remind them that he’d be coming back soon.
If it sounds a little bit like limbo, that’s because it sort of was. While Frazier played in his rehab games in far off stadiums, Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis were proving themselves assets at third base, right here in Flushing. Frazier took reps at shortstop and waited, and got better, and wanted very badly to contribute right away.
So, consider Tuesday’s fifth inning grand slam in the Mets' 9-0 victory over the Phillies as a loud reminder that Frazier does not intend to be forgotten.
“I want to contribute just as much as they’re doing,” he said. “We have a good team and all these guys on this team can produce. They’re exciting to watch and it doesn’t matter who’s on the field or whether you’re playing or not, you’ve gotta be ready. J.D. Davis has proved that. Jeff McNeil is having a heck of a year, and I’m just there. It’s me. I’m just trying to do what I know what I can do. That grand slam was nice tonight.”
It was also something of a statement. Twice in his two games back, the opposing pitcher intentionally walked the batter ahead of Frazier to get to him. The first time, on Monday, he grounded into a fielder’s choice. The second time, on Tuesday, Drew Anderson gave McNeil the free pass to load the bases for Frazier. After taking three straight balls from the reliever, Frazier took a strike and launched a 95-mph fastball to the stands in left to put the Mets up 8-0 over the Phillies, officially ushering in the rout.
“I hit it and I was like, ‘Get out, get out,’” Frazier said. “One hundred percent [it’s sweeter to do it after an intentional walk]. It’s hard to do, don’t get me wrong but we’re all professionals and I got to a good count and my timing was just right, so it does, it makes it that much better.”
Mickey Callaway said Monday that he envisioned Frazier playing third, even at the expense of playing time for Davis, who’s had a strong start to the season and mashes lefties. McNeil, while a third baseman, has proved capable in the outfield, and even had an assist Tuesday, gunning down Maikel Franco on a one-hopper to the plate in the fourth, after Franco tried to score from second on a single.
In 19 games this year, Davis, who, like Frazier, bats from the right side, has hit .268 with three home runs and seven RBIs.
“It’s going to be a hard decision every day,” Callaway said. “They both look good…When you’re hitting quality hitters like that, that far down in the lineup, it makes you feel dangerous. We have such a deep lineup this year that you can do either and be OK, but we still have to make the right decision.”
Frazier doesn’t have any intention of making it an easy one.
It feels “really good [to contribute], especially missing a bunch of games,” he said. “I’m just trying to get on everybody’s back and ride the wave. We’ve got a good squad. That [grand slam] felt really good. Let out a little roar there and it was exciting.”