As Clint Frazier competes for a spot on the Yankees' Opening Day roster, manager Aaron Boone said he believes the one thing Frazier needs is consistent playing time.
"He needs to play every day,'' Boone said Thursday, according to the New York Daily News' Kristie Ackert. "That doesn't necessarily mean they don't come here. We expect him to impact our club this year."
Though Frazier, who is 3-for-18 with one RBI through eight Grapefruit League games this spring, said he is healthy from his concussion recovery, a spot on New York's 25-man roster in three weeks is not guaranteed.
Even though the Yankees have dealt with several injuries so far, their outfield currently consists of Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
The Yankees are likely to open the season with a three-man bench: a backup outfielder, a backup catcher (Austin Romine) and a backup infielder (DJ LeMahieu). Boone has already said it's difficult to envision two first basemen on the 25-man roster to start the season. That leaves Frazier competing with utility man Tyler Wade for a roster spot.
Frazier has said he wants to take over for Gardner, whom the Yankees re-signed to a one-year deal this offseason, even though he added he respects Gardner's leadership and veteran presence.
"I want to show that I want to take his spot whenever the time comes, and all respect to Gardy in the world," Frazier said last month. "I love the guy to death and I can say that with a smile on my face because I genuinely mean that."
But for the 24-year-old Frazier, according to Boone, the most important thing is playing time, especially given he appeared in only 69 games last season (15 in the majors, 54 in the minors) and 113 games in 2017 (39 MLB, 74 with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre).
"Especially with the time he missed last year, regular at-bats, especially early, are important,'' Boone said. "So it will be determining will he get that here? We will make that determination as the picture becomes a little more clear in the next few weeks."
In 54 career major-league games, Frazier has a .238/.295/.429 batting line with four home runs and 18 RBIs. With the RailRiders last year, he slashed .311/.389/.574 with 10 home runs and 21 RBIs in 48 games.
However, once considered a top-40 prospect by Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus, Frazier's career thus far has been derailed by injuries.
Shortly after making his MLB debut in 2017, he suffered an oblique strain that put him on the disabled list. Last spring, he suffered a concussion in spring training that kept him out until late April, but appeared in only two games after July 19 due to post-concussion symptoms.
Frazier suffered a bruised right hand/forearm after he was hit with a pitch in last Sunday's Grapefruit League game, however the Yankees removed him for precautionary measures.
Now that he's healthy, he hopes to make the MLB roster.
But even though Hicks has been dealing with back stiffness and Jacoby Ellsbury not expected to join camp until next weekend, Frazier may need to bide his time in the minors before he becomes a regular major-league starter.