NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Yankees have a message for Clint Frazier: don’t get caught up in winning a job.
That may seem like some weird advice, given the fact that the team would definitely like a cost-effective young player to take control of an outfield spot for years to come, but manager Aaron Boone seems worried that if Frazier’s brain gets in the way he may not end up being all he can be.
“The biggest thing with Fraz, I just want him to be almost not even getting caught up in that,” Boone said Tuesday. “Just … he did some really good things last year. As I talked about the other day, I think we saw him make progress defensively. Saw in limited action up here, really good at-bats. That plate discipline is there for a young player.
The Yankees have been high on Frazier since acquiring him in a 2016 trade with the Cleveland Indians, with general manager Brian Cashman once calling his bat speed “legendary.” But Frazier has yet to emerge as the solution his talent suggests he should be.
A concussion forced Frazier to start last season on the disabled list and when he finally did return he was shuttled back and forth between the Bronx and Scranton-Wilkes Barre, the team’s Triple-A affiliate, based on the Yankees’ needs. In early September he was shut down for good due to a recurrence of concussion symptoms.
But this spring Frazier is healthy and has taken aim at Brett Gardner’s job in left field. Gardner, 35, who was brought back on a one-year, $7.5 million contract, really isn’t suited to be an everyday player anymore and the Yankees would probably prefer he come off the bench.
Frazier is being given every opportunity to win the job, but he’s off to a bit of a slow start with just one hit in seven at-bats in two games through Tuesday. Boone implied that he might be pressing and wants him to think less and just let his natural ability take over.
“The talent leaps off the screen in the way he swings the bat,” Boone said. “I want him to be healthy and get reps and play and not so much worry about how it plays out. The bottom line is if he’s in a good place and playing and getting better. He’s gonna play in the big leagues a long time. I don’t even want him to get caught up in ‘I am going after this.’ For him, with his talent, if he plays well, it will work out really well for him over time.
“I think he’s in a really good frame of mind,” Boone added. “I think he’s over what he went through last year. And I just want him to go out and play and play well and play to his capabilities.”