TAMPA, Fla. — Clint Frazier entered the spring aiming to lay low, hoping that the bright universe of stars surrounding him in the lineup would help him prepare without controversy. After weeks of successfully flying under the radar, the Yankees outfielder hopes that his play will generate plenty of attention in the season’s first half.
“The goal is to be an impact player, one that shows what I can finally do over the course of 162 games,” Frazier said. “I have goals in my head of what I want to accomplish, and I do think that they’re pretty fair goals. If I do accomplish those, I think there’s a good chance that I could find myself on the All-Star ballot if I produce the way that I hope that I can.”
This is the first season that Frazier has not had to fight for his spot in the lineup, entering the spring assured of being in the Opening Day lineup alongside center fielder Aaron Hicks and right fielder Aaron Judge. Frazier has mentioned that he has played in exactly 162 regular-season games over the last four seasons, collecting 24 homers and 82 RBIs — numbers that he believes he can best over a full year.
“Obviously there’s a lot of things that I have to do to get in that position, but I do feel capable,” Frazier said. “There’s a reason why I’ve spoken with a lot of confidence in the past. I guess last year I showed it, but this year I’m going to try to show it over the course of 162.”
Frazier was among the Yankees’ more productive players during last year’s shortened campaign, batting .267/.394/.511 (150 OPS+) with eight homers and 26 RBIs in 39 games — even after being demoted to the alternate training site during the first series of the regular season. His outfield play was greatly improved, earning a nod as a Gold Glove Award finalist in right field.
He said that hearing general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone speak definitively about a starting role on the 2021 squad helped Frazier feel like he belonged, though he is mindful of not becoming complacent.
“Everybody says the easy part is getting there; the hard part is staying there,” Frazier said. “It hasn’t been easy for me to get here. I’m assuming it’s not going to be easy for me to stay, considering the firepower we have.”
Cole scattered two hits and struck out five without a walk in the 86-pitch effort. Cole completed his spring with a 2.45 ERA over 18 1/3 innings, spanning five starts. Cole permitted 15 hits, walked three and struck out 24 in his second spring as a Yankee.
“I think I’ve hit every marker this spring so far,” Cole said. “I should go out there with a pretty full clip. I’m happy with the shapes of the pitches, I’ve been happy with attacking the zone. I anticipate there being some energy — it’s been a long time since people in New York have been able to get to a baseball game. I’m looking forward to it; I’m looking forward to my family being there.”
Cole heard a loud ovation as he exited the mound in the sixth inning Friday, and the right-hander said that one fan in particular seemed to be extremely enthused.
“The guy in right-center field, pumping me up before the game — just non-stop,” Cole said, with a grin. “I mean, he was on level 10. I had to lock it in for a minute; he was making me smile. It’s Spring Training, I appreciate the ovation. I’m looking forward to giving them a few more reasons to stand up this year.”
Boone said Friday afternoon that “nothing’s been decided yet” regarding infielder/outfielder Jay Bruce, who was absent from camp for a second successive day as he mulls the opt-out clause in his Minor League contract. Infielder/outfielder Derek Dietrich was in the Yanks’ original lineup Friday but was scratched about two hours before game time. Boone said that Dietrich worked out earlier in the day and decided that he should not play in the game.
Bruce had to be added to the Yankees’ 40-man roster on Thursday; otherwise, the team would have to release him or make him available to the other 29 clubs for a 48-hour period that expires at midnight ET on Sunday. Bruce batted .194/.242/.419 with two homers and three RBIs in 13 spring games, appearing in left field, right field and at first base.
Boone said that Dietrich and right-hander Jhoulys Chacín, both non-roster invitees, were in similar situations.
Germán, 28, appeared sharper than Boone and the Yankees’ coaches expected coming off a year lost to a suspension for violation of Major League Baseball’s policy against domestic violence. Germán tossed nine scoreless innings in three Grapefruit League starts, scattering five hits. The right-hander walked one against 13 strikeouts.
Rated as the Yankees’ No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline, García pitched to a 3.86 ERA in 14 Grapefruit League innings, spanning five starts. The 21-year-old permitted 12 hits, issuing eight walks with 14 strikeouts.
Left-hander Justin Wilson (sore left shoulder) is “champing at the bit to throw,” according to Boone. The reliever received an encouraging update from an MRI taken after he exited an appearance on Monday, with the club determining that rest could allow him to return to the mound.
Right-hander Adam Warren has resumed a throwing program and has been tossing at distances of up to 100 feet, according to Boone. Warren was moved to Minor League camp earlier in the spring.
Chacín is listed as the Yankees’ probable starting pitcher on Saturday, when the Yankees will host the Blue Jays for a 1:05 p.m. ET exhibition at Steinbrenner Field. Anthony Kay is scheduled to pitch for Toronto. The game can be seen on YES and MLB.TV and heard on WFAN and MLB Audio.