BALTIMORE – Almost nothing had gone right for Clint Frazier after returning from his injury.
And this was particularly frustrating for the 24-year-old outfielder because before landing on the injured list April 23 with a left ankle sprain, the opposite had been the case.
Frazier, for one game anyway, emphatically broke out of a major slump Tuesday night, homering twice in the Yankees’ 11-4 victory over the Orioles.
“That’s the best I’ve felt in a while,” Frazier said.
Frazier, back in the lineup Wednesday night, lined out to left in his first at-bat Tuesday, encouraged that he hit the ball hard, but an out nonetheless that dropped him to 6-for-41 since coming off the IL May 6.
“I jokingly said to Marcus, ‘I can smile about the first one, but if I line out a couple of more times after that I’m not going to be smiling,’” Frazier said of the Yankees hitting coach, Marcus Thames. “I’m just glad I was able to hit a home run in that second at-bat and a second one in the third at-bat and I think I still hit the ball hard in the last at-bat [a sharp grounder to short]. Just trying to pick up where I left off before I got hurt
Before the injury, which occurred somewhat freakishly on a scramble back to second base in a game against the Angels in Anaheim, Frazier had in many ways been carrying an offense that had been decimated by injuries.
In the previous seven games, Frazier was 11-for-31 (.355) with three homers, three doubles, a walk, five runs and seven RBIs, part of an overall season ledger in which he was hitting .324 with a .974 OPS. He was, at the time, a team-best 8-for-17 (.471) with two homers, a double and 12 RBIs with runners in scoring position.
“I think for me it’s the timing” Frazier said. “I felt like I was in-between on pitches in the past couple of weeks and the way I felt, especially in that second AB, that helped lead to the third AB and I just think I needed a little momentum to get back to where I wanted to be.”
Aaron Boone has said in recent weeks he believed Frazier was “close” to breaking out, though the player said he wasn’t as sure.
“I felt close at times, felt far away at other times,” said Frazier, who will continue to get playing time with Giancarlo Stanton’s comeback from the IL stalling Wednesday because of a left calf strain. “I think people lose track of how hard this game is, especially coming off the [IL] trying to get back to playing the way that you are. It’s not about me, it’s about what this team is doing. These guys have stuck behind me the entire year and made me feel really a part of this team, and it’s been a lot easier to have those bad games because everyone was trying to pick me up after the game, so it’s a tribute to those guys in the locker room.”
Boone said he didn’t sense the frustration that Frazier acknowledged he was feeling.
“Not really,” Boone said. “But it’s certainly good to see him come out and get some results when you go through [a slump]. That’s part of growing up in the big leagues; you’re going to hit your peaks and valleys a little bit, you try to manage them as best you can. Good to see him break out because I think we all understand he’s capable, when he really gets locked in, of going on a really good run.”