Clint Frazier is hungry for a spot in the Yankees outfield in 2018, and he could very well force himself into center field.
The Yankees have a dilemma in the outfield as Spring Training gets underway. They only have one spot open with three players who have the opportunity to earn it. The competition is, for the most part between Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury, but Clint Frazier wants in on the action.
Here’s what Frazier recently told manager Aaron Boone, per the New York Post.
"“I made the comment to Aaron Boone today, I said I could play center field,” Frazier said. “I said, ‘Don’t get too caught up in the advance metrics. Just use the eye test. You’ve got some throw-back in you, so just give me the chance.’ He shook his head, so I don’t know what he meant. I’ve played more center in my career than the corners. I know I can go out there and catch the ball. … I think nowadays, if you hit, you play.”"
The idea that Frazier made it clear to the new Yankees’ manager, that he is very capable of playing center field just shows how bad he wants to be in the Bronx and believes that he is ready to do so.
Confidence is key to making it in the majors and Frazier certainly is not lacking in that department.
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Frazier is correct when he says he has played more games in center than the corners; he was considered a center fielder until the Cleveland Indians moved him to the corners because they believed Bradley Zimmer was more suited in center.
In his first glimpse of major league ball last season, Frazier slashed .231/.268/.448 with four home runs and 17 RBI in 39 games. These certainly aren’t eye-popping numbers, but they aren’t bad for a player who is facing major league pitching for the first time.
His drive and determination could be what forces his way into the Yankees’ center field spot. At the moment, neither Aaron Hicks or Jacoby Ellsbury has the job locked up due to their lack of consistency and Frazier seems ready to pounce.
"“But my eyes are not set on Triple-A.” Frazier said. “Obviously if it happens with Triple-A then I’ll be disappointed, but I think the people around here are excited for everyone here so I’m trying to keep them excited for me.”"
He has his eyes on the prize and will be disappointed if he is forced to begin opening day in Triple-A Scranton. With Frazier’s “legendary bat speed” and determination for success, there is no reason bets should be placed against him this spring.
However, for Frazier to steal this role, he will really have to impress general manager Brian Cashman and company with an outstanding spring performance to put him ahead of Hicks and Ellsbury.
It should be very intriguing to see how this battle plays out along with the other vacant positions for the Yankees this spring.