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Yankees' Clint Frazier: 'It's not a rule that I have to speak'

Yankees right fielder Clint Frazier is booed by

Yankees right fielder Clint Frazier is booed by fans after he is unable to make a catch against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

TORONTO – The Yankees might want Clint Frazier to just let his glove do the talking.

Because as bad as that has been this season, it couldn’t be worse than what happened before Tuesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays when Frazier, who struggled in the field throughout Sunday night’s game against the Red Sox and then left his teammates to talk to the media about it afterward, chose to speak. 

For nearly nine minutes, the 24-year-old dug in.

“I don’t regret it,” said Frazier, who homered in his second at-bat as the designated hitter Tuesday night against Toronto, which could be a possible landing spot for the outfielder before the trade deadline. “And to be fair, I don’t think I owe anyone an explanation because it’s not a rule that I have to speak.”

Frazier is right.

But it’s long been an established practice in the Yankees’ clubhouse the last 20 years, and even before that – practiced by everyone from Don Mattingly to Bernie Williams to Derek Jeter to Mariano Rivera to Andy Pettitte to Alex Rodriguez to CC Sabathia, etc. – that any player contributing in a negative way to a game, particularly to a loss, stands before his locker and answers questions.

That is drilled into players, often times by other players, from the time they join the organization – whether drafted into it or traded into it, as Frazier was from Cleveland in 2016 – with the reason having nothing to do with appeasing the media. It is so players don’t have to cover for their teammates.

Sunday night, after Frazier contributed significantly to the loss with his misplays, that’s what occurred.

“Look, part of being a big-league player and certainly part of playing here, is we want our guys to always respond when you play a specific role in a ballgame, and that’s part of being a pro and being a big-league ballplayer and being a New York Yankee,” Aaron Boone said.

Boone said he did speak with Frazier, who according to one opposing executive is “torpedoing” his trade value, between Sunday night and Tuesday’s clubhouse news conference but did not elaborate.

 As Frazier addressed the media Tuesday, hardly a player could be found in the clubhouse milling around as a show of support, a frequent occurrence in past situations when a player has faced the proverbial firing squad.

Frazier did later say “I should have been standing in front of my locker,” and, it should be pointed out, made no excuses for his poor outfield play, which has plagued him all season.

“I sucked, I lost us the game,” Frazier said. “Everyone knew what I did wrong.”

Had Frazier opened his meeting with reporters there and left it there he would have been better off. Instead, he dived into past instances where he felt treated unfairly, such as the organization making him cut his flowing locks of red hair during spring training 2017, an on-air story told by radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman that he asked for Mickey Mantle’s No. 7 after arriving from Cleveland and YES’ Michael Kay, on his radio program on ESPN, questioning the length of time it was taking Frazier to return from a concussion.

In the case of No. 1, it was a teammate, Sabathia, growing a beard that forced the issue, the worst kept secret in the clubhouse that spring. It was not a coincidence Frazier and Sabathia showed up in the clubhouse freshly shaved within 10 minutes of each other.

“Stories that shouldn’t be stories have been stories,” Frazier said. “It started with the hair. Then it started with me asking for a number that I didn’t ask for. Then it started with another guy saying I should be out on the field playing through a concussion. And it’s been difficult and I don’t feel like it’s been fair at times. I don’t owe an apology for not talking.” 

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