Clint Frazier began his rehab assignment in Tampa, initiating what the New York Yankees hope is a speedy return.
He started at DH in the first game of a doubleheader, finishing 1-for-3 with a single.
Frazier’s imminent return to the big league club comes at a time when the team is desperate for outfield assistance.
The Yankees have been without Frazier since July 19, and they lost every day right fielder Aaron Judge about a week later. To make matters worse, Brett Gardner went into a slump that has dropped his average 20 points since the middle of July.
When the Yankees didn’t make a move for outfield reinforcements, Neil Walker—an infielder by trade—and light-hitting Shane Robinson were pressed into service. Although they have gotten the job done, they aren’t legitimate placeholders until the injured Judge returns.
The 23-year-old Frazier had just 34 at-bats with the Yankees before going on the DL. He was hitting .265 with 3 doubles and no home runs, but he kept putting up big numbers at Triple-A.
Frazier had 10 home runs in just 48 games with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, compiling a .963 OPS. The Yankees are hoping he can bring that kind of production to New York and at least partially fill in the giant Judge-sized hole in the outfield.
Getting Frazier back will give Aaron Boone the ability to give the rest of his outfield days off down the stretch. The Yankees manager will also have more flexibility in the infield, as Walker will no longer be needed in the outfield.
Frazier could be a much-needed offensive spark as the Bombers finish off the season. Yankees fans remember him showing signs of his tantalizing potential when he debuted in 2017. Seventeen of his first 31 hits were for extra bases, one a walk-off home run.
For now, though, the Yankees can only hope that Frazier will be able to quickly shake off the dust gathered from his month-and-a-half layoff.