TAMPA, Fla. -- Clint Frazier is attempting to make up for lost time, and Brett Gardner should take notice. Eyeing what he said feels like a prime opportunity to collect at-bats, the big-swinging Yankees outfielder said he intends to steal playing time from the veteran this spring.
"I've got to go out there and prove to the guys that I'm healthy, and show that the guy that's been there for the last 10-plus years is someone that I can compete with," Frazier said Wednesday. "I want to show that I want to take his spot, whenever the time comes.
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"All respect to Gardy in the world, I love the guy to death, and I can say that with a smile on my face because I genuinely mean that. I'm trying to make sure that the way that I'm going about this goal of mine is in a respectful way to him and everybody else as well. I think this is the best chance I've had since my pro career started."
Reporting to camp 11 days ahead of the mandatory report date for position players, Frazier took 35 batting-practice swings on a practice field of the Yankees' complex and cracked eight home runs. He said it was his first time hitting overhand pitching this year.
Frazier also participated in defensive drills, twice showing no hesitation to flag balls on the warning track. His season was derailed last February in the Yanks' second exhibition game when he sustained a vestibular concussion after catching a Ryan Lavarnway fly ball in a game against the Pirates, but he said he is now all the way back.
"I feel a difference in my quality of life, just the happiness whenever I wake up," Frazier said. "I'm finally through the hard times that I was going through then. Now it's just like, I feel like a new person on the field. You appreciate the things that are very simple tasks in life that get taken away from you whenever something happens. To be out here right now swinging the bat, running around, it's a good feeling."
Frazier, 24, made his big league debut with the Yankees in 2017 and slashed .231/.268/.448 with four homers and 17 RBIs in 39 games. Sidelined for most of '18 with post-concussion symptoms, he played in 15 big league games and slashed .265/.390/.353 with no homers and one RBI.
"I want to continue to show what I did in 2017," Frazier said. "I showed some glimpses of being able to go up there and perform, whenever I got some opportunities. Last year was different, because I didn't get a chance to really get my feet wet as much as I wanted."
Frazier said he was recently cleared for full baseball activities by Dr. Mickey Collins, a noted specialist based out of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
"The way that I've been training, I feel like I could go into a game right now," Frazier said. "I don't know what the results would be, but I've been doing a lot of stuff on the pitching machine trying to emulate game fastballs.
"I think that's what has helped me all offseason. I had to do stuff that would help with my vision, because the way my concussion happened, it affected my vision. I've been doing things that are as hard as I can do to see where I'm at."
Collins also suggested that Frazier expose himself to loud music, with the intent of simulating the decibel level he might experience while playing in big league ballparks. Frazier said he attended a Post Malone/Aerosmith show this past week in Atlanta, and plans to see Travis Scott when the artist visits Florida next month. He's open for additional concert suggestions.
"Mickey put me on a new trend," Frazier said. "If anyone can sing good and you want me to come, let me know. I'll come."