SEATTLE -- The Yankees have a crowded outfield, and for the time being, New York manager Joe Girardi is leaning on rookie Clint Frazier in left field over veteran Jacoby Ellsbury."I'm going with the hot hand," Girardi said repeatedly during the series in Seattle.And rightfully so. Frazier is hitting .295/.302/.607
SEATTLE -- The Yankees have a crowded outfield, and for the time being, New York manager Joe Girardi is leaning on rookie Clint Frazier in left field over veteran Jacoby Ellsbury.
"I'm going with the hot hand," Girardi said repeatedly during the series in Seattle.
And rightfully so. Frazier is hitting .295/.302/.607 with six doubles, two triples and three home runs since his first Major League game on July 1, including a difference-making two-run double in the Yankees' 6-4 win over the Mariners on Sunday. Ellsbury's numbers during that stretch? .159/.275/.182 with one double and one RBI.
It makes for an interesting situation. Ellsbury, who's mostly been an everyday player since he broke in with the Red Sox, is destined for bench duty for the time being, particularly as a pinch-runner, which he was employed as twice in the final two games against the Mariners.
The right-handed-hitting Frazier earned the start on Saturday against the left-handed Ariel Miranda, which is not uncommon. But his start over Ellsbury on Sunday against the right-handed Yovani Gallardo signals that Girardi now views him as an everyday-type player.
Frazier also showed that game-changing ability, something Girardi's touted, on Sunday. Frazier, the Yankees' No. 2-ranked prospect by MLBPipeline.com, was elated he's received Girardi's blessing.
"It's a very good feeling to know the manager sees you are putting in the hard work,'' Frazier said.
An interesting situation lies on the horizon, as Aaron Hicks, who compiled a 2.8 WAR before landing on the disabled list with a strained oblique, is expected to return in two or three weeks.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told WFAN's Mike Francesa on Thursday that Frazier would be optioned to Triple-A when Hicks returns, and it appears the Yankees are hamstrung to do so. Ellsbury is not only owed $21.2 million this year and the next three, but Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge are everyday players in the outfield.
Girardi isn't jumping to conclusions.
"I think you address that situation when you get there," Girardi said. "We're still a ways away from Hicks coming back, and there are so many things that can happen before that, so that's why you never speculate. You worry about it when it's time to worry about it."
Even if Frazier is sent down, he's almost guaranteed, barring injury, he'll be a September callup when the rosters expand.
For now, Frazier is just relishing the opportunity and flattered Girardi is so impressed with his production.
"The way I view it is I'm here right now, two to three weeks is a long ways away, and I'm going to continue to make him think that I can stay up here regardless of what's going to happen," Frazier said. "But September's right around the corner. Whenever Aaron comes back, whatever move they make is best for the team, and I have to view it that way."
Josh Horton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. He covered the Yankees on Sunday.