DETROIT — Clint Frazier couldn’t remember ever being so enthusiastic about swinging a fungo bat.
The 22-year-old rookie, on the DL since Aug. 9 with a left oblique strain, did his first baseball activity of any kind since then before Wednesday’s game.
He did some light running in the outfield and took 15 dry swing in the batting cage.
“It’s funny to say that I’m excited about 15 swings,” Frazier said. “That’s the most I’ve done since (going to the DL), so I’m excited about doing that little activity. That’s 15 more swings that I’ve had the last two weeks.”
Frazier, who doesn’t have a timetable yet on his return as he has yet to fully test the oblique running the bases or taking full BP, had an electric start to his big league career. He homered and doubled in his first game July 1 at Houston, the beginning of a 20-game stretch in which he produced an impressive .860 OPS and knocked Jacoby Ellsbury from the starting lineup.
But Frazier slumped before going on the DL, a 5-for-33 skid dropping his slash line to .243/.274/.477.
The rookie injured his oblique Aug. 5 in Cleveland during batting practice but played in games Aug. 6 and Aug. 8 because he felt discomfort in the oblique rather than pain. Frazier was scratched from a start Aug. 9 when Joe Girardi noticed him favoring the area and an MRI was ordered up for the following day.
The day the results came out Frazier said he wasn’t “too concerned” with the injury and didn’t think he would be out for long.
But it has taken far longer to heal than originally thought.
“It’s frustrating but I also look at it like I was fortunate that the games I did play feeling that discomfort in my side didn’t lead to it being a lot worse that it was,” Frazier said. “I look at it like I was lucky it was a mild strain and not something worse considering how many swings I took with it bothering me.”
Partial day off for Judge
Girardi had Aaron Judge bat cleanup a second straight night — Judge went 1-for-1 with an RBI and three walks Tuesday — but had him off his feet, starting the rookie at DH on Wednesday. “I think physically he’s doing pretty well, but I think when you get a chance in a stretch like we’re in (29 games in 30 days), if you can give a guy a DH day I think it helps him,” Girardi said.
No dog days
Gary Sanchez, who burst on the scene in 2016 with a ridiculously good August — producing a 1.290 OPS and hitting 11 homers in 24 games — is again tearing it up. The catcher, who homered twice Tuesday to give him 24 on the year, has a 1.114 OPS and nine homers in 19 games this August.
“It really is amazing this time of year, you almost feel like [he] gets stronger,” Girardi said. “There aren’t that many catchers that have that ability. Saw it last year, we’ve seen it somewhat this year. It’s a great trait to have.”