Scranton, Pa. — Clint Frazier stood out near the warning track in left field and laced up his cleats.
He was dressed is his usual warm-up attire — Yankees team shorts and t-shirt with some navy blue Nike tights go with it.
He was huddled with Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ defensive coach Julio Bourbon. They conversed for a couple of moments then jogged over to left field.
The RailRiders game against Rochester that evening wasn’t supposed to start for another three hours. No one was on the field but a couple of Red Wings players in the right-field corner. Frazier and Bourbon spent the next several minutes doing some more talking. Bourbon went through some motions that imitated a proper crow hop. Frazier mimicked.
Then Bourbon left Clint in the outfield and migrated to home plate. He started hitting fly balls of various speeds, trajectories and directions out to left field. Frazier camped under each one, made the catch and took a large crow hop — as if trying to cut down a runner trying to take the extra base — then softly threw the ball back in.
The two continued for over an hour before heading back into the clubhouse.
Frazier has made a habit of these one-on-one sessions ever since his return to Scranton Wilkes-Barre. It’s part of his defensive routine — an area of his game Clint is quick to say he needs to improve upon.
The two work on everything together.
“First step, reads to the ball, the routes that I take, conversations,” Frazier said. “It’s not always just mechanics out there. Julio is so fresh out of the game it’s almost like I’m talking to a teammate out there.”
Brian Cashman told RailRiders manager Jay Bell he wants the majority of Frazier’s time in the outfield to be in left. Knowing that Frazier is facing the problem head-on.
“Since he’s been here he’s been fine,” Bell said. “Julio continues to work with him. He’s got a nice defensive routine every day. I think he goes out of his way to find ways to get better daily in all areas of his game.”
Frazier says centerfield is easier for him, and he’s logged more innings at that position than the corners. But to return to the Yankees, he’s accepted that he’ll have to get more acclimated to the corner spots.
“We’ve got a guy that’s pretty good up there in the big leagues, so I think I’m going to have to take my chances in the corners,” he said. “The ball gets on you just a little bit faster in the corners. Guys typically, if they hit it to you, they pulled it, so they hit it pretty well.”
At the plate, Frazier has recently been thrust into the leadoff spot. It’s a spot he’s occupied for the majority of his career, dating back to high school.
“It’s just an opportunity for me to get as many at-bats as I can, which is why I like it the most,” Frazier said.
At first, Frazier did not fare too well in the box, hitting .136 in his first five games back.
Since then, however, he has put up substantial numbers. He’s hit close to .300 with an on-base percentage of .357 in a ten game stretch, smacking five doubles and striking out just four times.
Still, Frazier thinks he has more to give at the plate.
“At times I’ve felt good, and at times I’ve not felt good,” he said. “I’m going to get in a groove here pretty soon.”
He’s not worried about his bat. Frazier has shown more than enough capability on offense with the Yankees this season. He is hyperfocused on improving his defense.
“I’m not going to hit my way back.”
He is comfortable here with the RailRiders. His defense is coming along, and Frazier is taking advantage of getting as many at-bats as possible. In 15 games back, he feels right at home.
“Jay has given me the opportunity to play center and hit leadoff, so it’s been fun while I’ve been here,” Frazier said.