In baseball, a few weeks leave plenty of time for hot streaks to turn cold, healthy players to get hurt and opinions to change.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman recently said Clint Frazier probably would be demoted to clear a roster spot whenever Aaron Hicks returns from the disabled list. But if the 22-year-old rookie outfielder continues to perform as he has through 18 games and no more outfielders get injured, the club will face a difficult decision.
Once again, Frazier provided key hits Wednesday, going 2-for-4 with a walk and a pair of two-out RBI singles in a 9-5 win over Cincinnati. Frazier’s batting average rose to .290, and he is hitting .429 and slugging .929 with runners in scoring position.
“The goal is to just continue to show that I can play at this level,” he said. “If the decision’s set in stone, then there’s not much that I can do to change that, but I don’t know.
“I haven’t had a conversation with anyone on the team about the future. It’s still a couple weeks away. A lot can happen during that time. I’m just trying to make it a harder decision.”
Joe Girardi said he has been “really pleased” with Frazier’s hitting and baserunning, though Frazier admitted he could improve his plate discipline. His walk Wednesday was only his second in 71 plate appearances, and his eighth-inning strikeout was his 20th.
“For me, you always approach the decision when it’s time to make the decision,” Girardi said. “We’re still weeks away from having to make a decision and there’s a ton of things that can happen before that. I think Brian’s thought there is you’re going to want him to play every day.”
Frazier has produced in nearly every game he has played for the Yankees. He homered in his July 1 debut at Houston and hit a walk-off home run against Milwaukee July 8. Against the Reds’ Homer Bailey, he delivered two-out singles in the third and fifth innings to stake the Yankees to a 2-0 lead. Frazier walked leading off the seventh and scored on Gary Sanchez’s double, sparking a five-run inning that extended the lead to 9-2.
After Frazier slid into home, he popped up awkwardly as if he had injured himself. But he said not to worry. “I keep sliding on my right knee and I just keep opening this same cut, so it stung pretty bad,” he said. “I’m fine. Being weak right now.”
Thanks to Frazier and Luis Severino, who struck out nine and did not allow an earned run in seven innings, the Yankees (53-46) won for the fifth time in their last six games. They entered Wednesday trailing first-place Boston by one game.
“I’m trying to show that I can play at this level every day and be a threat every time I step onto the field,” Frazier said. “It’s cool to go out there and keep having moments like today, but it’s even more cool whenever we’re all clicking on the same cylinder and winning the game.”