BALTIMORE — This was supposed to be the year Clint Frazier finally lived up to the hype, with an everyday role in the outfield and a full season to show his worth.
Instead, he has been dreadful at the plate and mistake-prone on the bases, with another baserunning gaffe on Friday against the Orioles.
The offensive results have really bothered Frazier. The Yankees hoped he would grab the left field job and run with it when Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman named him the starter during the offseason.
“It’s been tough,’’ Frazier said Saturday of his start. “It’s gone on a lot longer than I think I expected or anyone expected. I try to stay positive every day and tell someone, ‘Today is the day.’ ”
But that day has not arrived.
Frazier entered Saturday in the midst of not just a rough season, but an ugly May.
In 11 games heading into Saturday, the 26-year-old was just 4-for-32 with only two extra-base hits and three RBIs.
“I feel really good up there,’’ Frazier said. “That’s the hard part. I feel close, but I need it to happen sooner than later.”
He probably has been fortunate that Brett Gardner hasn’t been much better. And more recently, Aaron Hicks has been sidelined with a torn sheath in his left wrist.
“I’m glad the team keeps giving me a chance,’’ said Frazier, who pointed to success during his time in the majors a year ago as to why the Yankees are sticking with him during the slump.
“I think last year was a good reason I’m getting the chance I’m getting right now,’’ Frazier said.
He added that despite the lack of results, his confident attitude hasn’t changed — but he needs to get going at the plate.
“It’s a matter of getting the swagger back in the box I’m used to and having a few fall,’’ Frazier said. “You can’t let swagger be created just because of success. When you’re going good, it’s easy to walk around on top of the world. Once you’re at the bottom point, you have to maintain that swagger, confidence and ability to turn the page. It’s frustrating. I had a really good [season] last year and I went into spring training and it didn’t click again.”
The baserunning blunders and his ejection for arguing a called third strike in Wednesday’s game at Tampa Bay, when the Yankees were short-handed without Gleyber Torres, are not a product of him being distracted by what he’s going on offensively — according to Frazier.
For now, he’s focused on finding a swing that’s effective and which he’s comfortable with — a process he has been going through all season.
Lately, he said, he has dropped his hands in his stance in an attempt to quicken his swing and is encouraged by his continued plate discipline and other numbers, like hitting the hardest ball of his career on Friday night at 111 mph.
Overall, though, his average exit velocity is 84.7 mph this season, down from his career number of 88.1 mph. His OPS prior to Saturday was .562, ahead of only Gardner’s .483 among regulars in the Yankees’ lineup.
“When I am hitting the ball hard, it’s tough not to get hits,’’ Frazier said. “It’s taken a lot longer than anticipated [to get going]. It’s hard to take positives out of balls hit hard that aren’t going in the hit column.”