The best thing you can say about a hitter is that you don’t want to be taking a bathroom break when he’s at the plate. Anything can happen and you don’t want to miss it.
Clint Frazier is that kind of must-see attraction. You just can’t look away.
But not so much at the plate. Oh, Frazier is a talented hitter, but it’s in the field where anything can happen when a ball is hit Red Thunder’s way.
That’s not the best thing to say about a fielder. And it’s one of the reasons Frazier might never be more than a frustrating lightning rod player for the Yankees.
Frazier’s defensive adventures in leftfield were on full display on Monday in the Yankees’ rain-delayed 7-0 loss to the Rangers at Yankee Stadium.
Notice we didn’t say “misadventures” — one of the plays Frazier made actually was terrific. He fielded Danny Santana’s single and threw a laser on the fly to the plate to get Elvis Andrus for the final out of the fifth inning.
Even though Frazier missed the cutoff man, the powerful throw showed just how athletic the 24-year-old can be.
There were two other key balls hit Frazier’s way. Both were, let’s say, interestingly played, and seemed to indicate that the defensive improvement Aaron Boone said Frazier made during his extended time in the minors might be wishful thinking on the manager’s part.
The first was a long, opposite-field double hit by Shin-Soo Choo in the third. Frazier, playing shallow, raced back and made a leaping try at the warning track. The ball ticked off the edge of his glove.
Frazier, at full speed and with no regard for his physical well-being, slammed into the wall even though he missed much of last season because of a concussion suffered after hitting the wall in a spring training game. He staggered a bit before retrieving the ball and throwing it in but stayed in the game.
“I think I knew probably when I got back to the dugout,” Frazier said. “I knew for sure. Obviously, standing out there, I’m not trying to create the thoughts in my head that I’m going through something. Obviously, it happened pretty quickly, so I just tried to stay calm out there and stay in the game. I feel like I’m an expert with the concussion stuff last year, so if I was feeling any of those effects, I would have told them.”
In the eighth, Nomar Mazara hit a single to left in front of Frazier. In front of, and then behind.
Frazier was caught between going for the catch or hanging back and playing it on a hop. He did neither, and the ball got by him without him getting a glove or any body part on it.
The miscue didn’t cost the Yankees a base thanks to Mike Tauchman, who backed up from centerfield to hold Mazara to a single.
Remember, it was Frazier’s defensive follies — particularly in a nationally televised game against the Red Sox in June — that led to the Yankees restricting him to DH duties and then sending him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Frazier took the full 72 hours to report to the minors, which was his contractual right and also was a bad idea for a guy trying to make it in the majors. His next call-up didn’t come until the rosters expanded on Sunday.
Guys like Tauchman and Mike Ford, who are in their late 20s and are thrilled to be part of big-league life, kept getting the call over Frazier, who can act as if he thinks a big-league roster spot is his birthright. Maybe the message reached Frazier. Maybe not.
Boone put him in the lineup Sunday as the DH against the A’s. His biggest contribution to the 5-4 win was being the player who was pinch hit for when Ford hit a walk-off home run.
Frazier went 0-for-5 with a walk the past two days. With Edwin Encarnacion expected to return from the injured list on Tuesday, Frazier might not see much DH time. Boone will have to decide if he wants to risk using him in the outfield again.
It’s must-see TV, that’s for sure. But not for the right reasons.