Frazier replies to critics: 'I'm trying to be myself'

Outfielder had not spoken to reporters since difficult defensive night

June 5th, 2019

TORONTO -- Some 41 hours after declined to address the crowd of reporters waiting in front of his Yankee Stadium locker, the outfielder spoke for nine raw minutes in the visitors' clubhouse at Rogers Centre on Tuesday, stating that he owes no explanation and that he believes the media has treated him unfairly.

Frazier misplayed three balls late in the Yankees' 8-5 loss to the Red Sox on Sunday evening in the Bronx, charged with an error on a Christian Vazquez single that bounced through his legs.

Frazier was in the Yankees' lineup on Tuesday as the designated hitter, hitting a two-run homer to give New York a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning.

He acknowledged before the game that his defensive play must improve, then added that he believes he is perceived incorrectly by the public.

"I am confident 24/7, which is why I think people feel the need to knock me down," Frazier said. "I know I don't fit the mold of what some of the past and current Yankees are like, and that may be why it's a little bit harder for me to navigate every day. I am trying to be myself in here. Sometimes it feels like people have an issue with me just being myself."

As examples, the 24-year-old pointed to a 2017 Spring Training discussion in which his red hair was a topic, ending with former manager Joe Girardi urging the outfielder to get a trim.

"I stood in the locker room behind closed doors with people that mattered and every one of them told me that my hair was the right length, but that's not how the story was written on the outside," Frazier said.

He also referred to a story in which broadcaster Suzyn Waldman incorrectly stated that Frazier had asked to wear Mickey Mantle's uniform No. 7, and a statement last season in which broadcaster Michael Kay seemed to suggest that Frazier should play through concussion issues. Waldman and Frazier cleared the air in a telephone conversation. Kay has said that he misspoke and apologized to Frazier.

"Since I got traded over here, there have been stories that shouldn't have come out," Frazier said. "And it's difficult, because the way I am perceived by people is not how I think I really am. Stories that shouldn't have been stories have been stories. It started with the hair. Then it started with me asking for a number that I didn't ask for. Then it started with another guy saying I should be out on the field playing through a concussion.

"It's been difficult, and I don't feel like it's been fair at times. I don't apologize for not talking. I knew the people I should have spoken to, I did, and that's where I went. I didn't feel like I needed to stand in front of everyone and explain myself. The plays were what they were. I sucked. I lost us the game. Everyone knew what I did wrong. That's what it came down to."

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he has spoken to Frazier about what is expected of him off the field.

"Obviously, part of being a big league player -- and certainly part of playing here -- is we want our guys to always respond when you have certainly played a specific role in a ballgame," Boone said. "That's part of being a pro and being a big league ballplayer with the New York Yankees. Those are things that are part of the growing process that we go through with all of our guys."

Boone said that he believes Frazier has fit into the Yankees' clubhouse atmosphere.

"I think the guys have embraced him," Boone said. "He's obviously played an important part for us this season and had a big hand in a lot of victories for us this year. Everyone is a little bit different and part of the growing process is we're all part of that too. Part of our job is to try to help and continue to educate our guys, not only between the lines but as best we can help them in things that are necessary to deal with as a big league ballplayer."

Yankees director of media relations Jason Zillo presents a robust, multiday training program to all players each spring that stresses, among other items, the importance of being accountable on good days and bad ones.

Frazier said he understands that speaking to the media is part of his job, but he seemed to indicate that the challenges of playing in New York have been greater than anticipated.

"When I was younger, the only thing that kept me relevant was baseball," Frazier said. "In Cleveland, I had people that were upset with me there. When I came over here, the magnitude of it is 10 times bigger. I am just trying to fit in here and be myself, and it's hard. It's hard here, but I want to be here. I know I have to stand and talk to the media.

"But [Sunday] night was the most difficult night of my professional career in the outfield. I tried the best I could to keep myself composed, and I got two hits after that. It was difficult. My teammates knew what I did wrong and everyone else knew what I did wrong. I had a lot of people talk to me, and I needed a pat on the back. I am working as hard as I can."