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Frazier expresses defiance, remorse over fielding miscues

June 4, 2019
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New York Yankees right fielder Clint Frazier goes after Boston Red Sox Michael Chavis's RBI triple as it bounces away from him during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, June 2, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

TORONTO (AP) — New York Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier expressed a mix of defiance and remorse in his first public comments since three defensive mistakes in the last innings of a loss to Boston last weekend.

The 24-year-old did not speak to reporters following Sunday night’s defeat at Yankee Stadium.

New York trailed 3-2 in the seventh inning Sunday when Frazier let Eduardo Núñez’s sharp single get under his glove for a two-base error that allowed Michael Chavis to score from first base. Three batters later, Frazier dived and missed Andrew Benintendi’s liner, which fell for a single as Brock Holt scored from first. Then in the eighth, he took a bad route on Chavis’ ball near the right-field line, letting it skip by for an RBI triple as fans booed.

“I don’t want to have mistakes in the outfield, or at the plate, or in life in general,” Frazier said. “And when you do, it’s tough. When you’re standing there and you hear everything that everyone is saying in the outfield — that’s the first time I’ve been in that position, where I heard everything that everyone was saying —it’s not a fun feeling, you know, because I’m trying. Everything that I’m doing offensively is kind of being forgotten about, it feels like at times, because of what I’m doing in the outfield

Frazier had long red hair before he was traded to the Yankees in 2016 in the deal that sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland. Given the Yankees’ team rule about short hair, then-manager Joe Girardi asked Frazier to cut it in 2017.

Frazier showed promise with the Yankees in the second half of the 2017 season, then sustained a concussion during spring training last year that wrecked his season.

“I know I don’t fit the mold of what some of the past and current Yankees are like, and that may be why it’s a little bit harder for me to navigate every day,” Frazier said. “I’m trying to be myself in here, you know, and sometimes it feels like people have an issue with me just being myself. It’s been difficult, it’s been hard.”

Given playing time this year following injuries to Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, Frazier entered Monday with a .272 average, 10 homers and 28 RBIs. He had struggled defensive, and manager Aaron Boone has removed him in the late innings of some games. Frazier was the designated hitter Tuesday.

Frazier appeared in the Yankees clubhouse on Tuesday about 40 minutes after media entered. Frazier spoke for about 10 minutes as team special adviser Reggie Jackson looked on. Yankees vice president of communications Jason Zillo ended the session, saying Frazier had to attend a hitter’s meeting.

Frazier said he didn’t regret his refusal to address his miscues after Sunday’s game.

“To be fair, I don’t think owe anyone an explanation because it’s not a rule that I have to speak,” Frazier said. “I didn’t feel like I needed to stand in front of everyone and explain myself. The plays were what they were. I sucked. I lost us the game. Everyone knew what I did wrong and that’s what it came down to.”

Later, however, Frazier contradicted himself by saying he should have spoken, rather than leaving teammates to do so on his behalf.

“I don’t want them to have to speak for me but I also want to be on the same page as everyone in there so I should have been standing in front of my locker,” Frazier said.

Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement states “It is very important to our game that ALL players are available to the media for reasonable periods and it is the player’s responsibility to cooperate.”

Núñez’s ball bounced in a way Frazier did not expect.

“I tried to stay back on the ball and it took a bad hop and got past me,” Frazier said. “That’s really, in my eyes, a hard play with the way it was hit hard and the ball was backspinning the way it was and I didn’t anticipate it taking the hop that it did. It did and it shouldn’t have happened. That’s what I keep saying, is it shouldn’t happen and it keeps happening.”

Boone said he had spoken to Frazier but declined to provide specifics of their conversation. Boone did make clear he expects his players to answer for their performances.

“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,” Boone said. “That’s part of being a pro and being a big league player and being a New York Yankee.”

Boone insisted he has no reservations about using Frazier in the outfield.

“There’s no question in my mind that he’s light years ahead of where he was a year ago,” Boone said. “Now it’s about translating it into the game, and the game is hard. There’s a mental and confidence side to this thing that plays a big role in you being able to go out and perform. But from a skill set standpoint, I feel like he’s way further along, and certainly athletically he has everything you need from a tools standpoint to be a good outfielder.”

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