Clint Frazier's Powerful Bat. Does he have the power to save himself? (Photo: SI.com)

Clint Frazier – A Baseball Story And A Career Going Nowhere

Clint Frazier – A victim of serious injuries, yes. But he’s also been prone to shooting himself in the foot too. All in all, a baseball career going nowhere…

In September, Clint Frazier will celebrate his twenty-fifth birthday while finishing his sixth year in professional baseball. Once, he was the fifth overall pick in 2013 Amateur College Draft, selected by the Cleveland Indians as their 1st Round draft choice.

Fast forwarding to today, though, he will undoubtedly be sent down to the minors in a few days by the New York Yankees, having failed again to make the team heading North to begin the 2019 season.

While traveling to Scranton, Pennsylvania, Clint Frazier will carry on his shoulders not only the promise that has always followed him but the recurring disappointment of his inability to get out of his own way.

Clint Frazier’s story, you see, is not so much about bats, balls, and gloves as it is about a young man, who by a stroke of luck delivered him to the Yankees in 2016 in a trade that sent Andrew Miller the other way to the Cleveland Indians.

Luck, of course, comes in two forms – good and bad – and in the case of Clint Frazier, from the very beginning, this wasn’t a marriage made in heaven between the Yankees and their brash new player.

Clint Frazier, New York Yankees outfielder (Photo: Newsday.com)
Clint Frazier, New York Yankees outfielder (Photo: Newsday.com)

The first time we hear of Clint Frazier in a negative manner is an incident about the hair thing, and moreover, Frazier’s claim that he wasn’t a distraction for the team. Frazier, again perhaps through bad luck, was born with a wild crop of flaming red hair which, of course, flew directly into the Yankees policy (unwritten by the way) of no long or facial hair.

Unbeknownst to Clint Frazier, the rookie in camp making his formal introduction to the Yankees and vice-versa, the hair policy had previously brought down one of the Yankees veteran, and at the time, most iconic players – Don Mattingly, who was suspended for not shaving the mustache he still wears today. Ultimately, Frazier gave in, and there was a media splash covering the haircut he received. Strike one.

Given his baseball upside, it’s likely Brian Cashman would have used Frazier in a trade for starting pitching over the next two years – except that Clint Frazier was able to play in only 54 games in 2017 and 2018 due to an ongoing battle with the remnants of a concussion and recurring bouts with dizziness. Two years wasted. Strike two.

Which brings us to Spring Training, 2019, when Clint Frazier has been cleared by doctors to engage in full baseball activities, he feels great, and he has an outside chance to make the team as a reserve outfielder.

Enter Clint Frazier center stage again with his foot in his mouth. This time, with all the bravado of Joe Namath predicting victory, Frazier publicly proclaims he’s out to take Brett Gardner‘s left-field job away from him.

Coming into Spring Training this year, there was a big question mark next to Frazier’s name, and given a torrid spring, who knows? Alas, his 4-25 .160 BA with two lonely doubles to date hasn’t helped his cause.

Someday, someone will make a claim to that spot in left field, but not this year, and Frazier should have known that. Gardner, the seasoned professional he is, took it all in stride, but Yankee players, as well as team brass, did take notice that this young man may still have some growing up to do.

Especially when you consider other players on the team like Gleyber Torres (22) and Miguel Andujar (24) keep their eyes wide open and their mouth shut. Strike three? We’ll see.

Nick Swisher, Old Timer's Day, Yankee Stadium 2018 Photo Credit: NJ.com
Nick Swisher, Old Timer’s Day, Yankee Stadium 2018 Photo Credit: NJ.com

To be fair, I came across a story with some comments in it about Clint Frazier by Nick Swisher, who is thankfully still a part of the Yankees family as a special assistant to Brian Cashman. Following a talk Swisher had with Frazier recently (he would not divulge the specifics), Swisher makes a compelling argument:

“We talk a lot about making things a lot harder on yourself than what they really need to be,” Swisher said. “I think, for myself, maybe early in my career, before I was established, a lot of that stuff might have come off as arrogant or cocky or annoying. But once you make a name for yourself, all of a sudden my attitude was great and people were saying, ‘We love your energy,’ and the whole nine. And I was like, but I was the same guy X amount of years ago.”Brendan Kuty | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Mmm, so maybe there is life after near-death for Clint Frazier. But if his career is going to move forward, whether with the Yankees or elsewhere, his bat needs to catch up to his mouth.

Because if Clint Frazier doesn’t already hear the footsteps behind him, he’d better take note that Estevan Florial is coming, and it’s Florial’s name that’s written all over Brett Gardner’s job, not his own.

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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One comment

  1. I like the Swish quote. I’m not sure how well your argument here goes with the one you made about Jeter the other day. I’m tired of “quiet, dignified” heroes. I want to like my favorite Yankees for their personalities and based on talent i think Clint can absolutely be that guy.

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