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As long as he’s up with Yankees, Clint Frazier is OK with being on bench and facing uncertainty

Clint Frazier of the Yankees bats in the

Clint Frazier of the Yankees bats in the second inning against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Clint Frazier isn’t complaining.

The 23-year-old outfielder, coming off a 4-for-11 homestand that included a two-hit day Thursday afternoon, returned to the bench Friday as Brett Gardner came back after missing five games with inflammation in his right knee.

Most significant for Frazier, he wasn’t returning to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“Whatever situation I’m in here is fine with me,” Frazier said with a smile.

So no, he said, it’s not difficult to look at the lineup sheet and not see his name there after being productive.

“It would be difficult,” Frazier said, smiling again, “if I was in Triple-A.”

It is a place, no offense to Scranton, that he has zero desire to return to anytime soon, if ever.

“Hopefully the third time’s the charm,” Frazier said of sticking in his third call to the big leagues this season, which occurred last Monday because of Gardner’s balky knee. “I’m thankful they keep giving me an opportunity here.”

The righthanded-hitting outfielder is doing everything he can to make it tough to demote him — with the full knowledge that being productive might not be enough.

In his first appearance this season, May 19 in Kansas City, Frazier went 1-for-2 with a double and two walks. He was called up for the doubleheader in Detroit June 4 and had a hit in each game.

“Hopefully I can just keep showing them that I can perform here,” said Frazier, the centerpiece (along with lefthander Justus Sheffield) of the Andrew Miller trade with Cleveland in 2016.

Frazier, who entered 2018 with high hopes but saw most of his spring training and the early part of his regular season derailed by a concussion, has hit all season. In 38 games with Scranton, Frazier hit .312 with a .947 OPS.

Though he’s been predominantly a corner outfielder in his professional career, the organization started giving him more and more work in centerfield in the minors this season. Frazier, who made his big-league debut last season, did well enough that the Yankees started him there Thursday at the Stadium.

“It’s satisfying for me because this has been a tough year for me,” said Frazier, referencing the concussion. “And I’ve worked really hard to make sure that whenever my chance comes, I’m ready.”

Much to his surprise, Frazier batted leadoff Thursday.

“That was really fun,” he said. “It makes me feel good that they felt comfortable enough to put me in the leadoff spot and put me in centerfield. I don’t think that would have been the case last year. It kind of shows me that I’ve made some advances in my game to get these opportunities.”

Aaron Boone hasn’t ruled out keeping Frazier around for a while longer. He said Frazier likely will start Sunday afternoon against Rays lefthander Blake Snell and noted that he’s a strong option as a pinch hitter.

“We’ll see,” Boone said. “Take it day-by-day.”

As long as those days pass in the majors, Frazier can handle the uncertainty.

“I know the sacrifice I have to make to be a part of this team and I keep saying I have to earn my pinstripes here,’’ he said. “Gardy’s waited to play and it’s his turn to play and I was here to try and make the team as comfortable as [possible] when he wasn’t in that lineup. I’m happy to see him back out there, but I’m ready to go at any time if I have to. It’s not frustrating whenever you’re on a team as good as the one we have.”

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