If Clint Frazier made one thing clear before Tuesday night’s series opener against the Mariners, it’s that he’s just happy to be back in the Bronx.
An unfortunate victim of the Yankees’ deep outfield, Frazier called it “frustrating” to have spent so much time in Triple-A when he believes he deserves an opportunity with the Yankees.
He was afforded such a chance Tuesday, as he played leftfield and batted ninth with Brett Gardner out for a third straight game with inflammation in his right knee. Frazier went 1-for-3 and scored a run in the Yankees’ 7-2 win.
Gardner and manager Aaron Boone said the injury doesn’t seem to be serious, and Boone said it’s possible Gardner could start Wednesday. That could make Frazier’s third stint with the club this season a short one. For now, though, Frazier said he’s ready to take advantage of the opportunity.
“I’m just happy that I got to come up here with the team and be a part of this series,” Frazier, 23, said. “Seattle’s hot and we’re hot, so it’s going to be a fun one to play in. I’m just happy to be back in Yankee Stadium right now. I’m all smiles right now.”
On Monday, Frazier told reporters he was “unhappy” about spending a majority of his season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he’s hit seven home runs and produced a slash line of .312/.389/.558 in 38 games. He clarified his comments Tuesday.
“I think people kind of took that out of context,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to act bitter or anything. It’s just frustrating, you know? But I’m happy. I’m not going to be the guy that complains about the situation I’m in. It’s not going to help it; it’s only going to hurt it. I just went down there and tried to do what I was doing to give myself a chance to come back up here. The last thing I wanted was for words to be the reason why I didn’t get the call.”
Perhaps that’s a sign of the maturation of Frazier, the touted prospect acquired when the Yankees dealt Andrew Miller to the Indians before the trade deadline in 2016. He infamously made headlines for, among other things, his desire to wear No. 7, the retired number belonging to Mickey Mantle. Frazier settled for No. 77.
Frazier batted for Jonathan Holder and scored after getting hit by a pitch in the seventh inning of Monday night’s 4-2 win over the Nationals. He’s 4-for-11 (.364) with three walks in five games.
Boone said he’s been impressed. “He’s here because he’s really, really talented, and he continues to earn this opportunity,” Boone said.
Given his limited chances and the glaring need for a starting pitcher, Frazier conceivably could be dangled as a trade chip this summer, especially if he produces when called upon.