Clint Frazier was not in the Yankees’ lineup on Wednesday night against Astros righthander Luis Garcia.
About 250 miles away from the Bronx, Miguel Andujar was in the lineup as the leftfielder for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in Syracuse against the Mets’ affiliate.
Andujar had an infield single in his first at-bat, his first hit of the two-day-old minor-league season. The next time up, he followed a Luke Voit home run with one of his own, a long drive to left that conjured up memories of Andujar's sweet swing from three years ago.
In Tuesday’s Scranton opener, Andujar made a running catch in left that Yankees manager Aaron Boone noted on Wednesday.
The JetBlue flight between Syracuse and JFK takes one hour and eight minutes. That’s how long it would take for the Yankees to get Andujar to the Bronx and ship Frazier back to the minors.
Boone said it’s not time yet. But Frazier can’t get it going from the bench. If he’s not going to play every day, maybe it’s time for him to work out his ailing swing against Triple-A pitching.
Going into Wednesday, Frazier was batting .143 with two home runs, three RBIs and a .557 OPS. In 84 plate appearances, the 26-year-old had 14 walks and 23 strikeouts.
Andujar is the forgotten man among the Yankees’ young players. But Boone hasn’t forgotten what Andujar did in 2018, when he was a doubles machine, a third baseman and runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year.
A shoulder injury ruined Andujar’s 2019. Gio Urshela’s unlikely ascension into an All-Star caliber third baseman — along with Andujar’s defensive ineptness at the position — have turned Andujar into a man without a position, although Boone said he has been impressed by how the now 26-year-old has looked in left in limited appearances.
Andujar was slowed in spring training by a wrist injury. Now he’s healthy. That the Yankees are starting him in left instead of at third base in Triple-A tells you where they feel his future may be. It’s the same spot as Frazier. Only one can play it for the big club at a time.
"He’s definitely getting some reps out there in the outfield," Boone said. "I’ve liked the natural look he has out there. I know he made a good play out there [Tuesday] night. I think the thing with Miggy right now is — especially coming off the injury he had in spring training, so he’s kind of still getting built up a little bit — to get some at-bats under his belt."
The Yankees had a roster opening on Wednesday as they placed Rougned Odor on the 10-day injured list with a knee injury suffered in a collision with Astros catcher Martin Maldonado on Tuesday.
Andujar is one of only two minor leaguers on the 40-man roster who is listed as an infielder. The other is 20-year-old Oswald Peraza, an A-ball shortstop. So instead of a position player, the Yankees called up pitcher Albert Abreu.
"Certainly, [Andujar] was one of those options to bring [up] right now," Boone said. "I think it’s important for him to have some at-bats. But he’s certainly going to be in the mix."
Frazier is going to be in the mix, too. But not forever. Not if he doesn’t start hitting soon.
"I do think he’s close," Boone said, using one of his favorite phrases of support for a struggling player. "I do think he’s had some cases of taking a step forward with a game or two and then two steps back. It’s a little frustrating, I know, for him because he wants to kind of make that progress and then kind of take off."
Speaking of taking off . . . the minor leagues are playing six-game series this season to reduce travel, so Scranton is going to be in Syracuse through Sunday. JetBlue flies one round-trip between JFK and Syracuse a day. Don’t anyone tell Clint Frazier.