Fry showcases growth, versatility vs. Cubs

June 30th, 2023

CHICAGO -- From the outside, it’s easy to overlook the impact that a backup infielder (and now outfielder) can make on a team when he’s getting such sparse playing time. But the Guardians have known since Spring Training how beneficial could be on this club. 

Fry is now proving they were right. An advancement in his already solid big league development came at the cost of a 10-1 loss to the Cubs in the series opener at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon, but the Guardians could at least walk away with a silver lining of knowing that they can trust Fry wherever they may need him.

“He’s becoming as valuable as we had hoped,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said.

Fry was tasked with playing yet another new position: Left field. This year, the Guardians have already used him at each of the corner infield spots, behind the plate and in right field.

His introduction to right was far from ideal, when a 103.8 mph knuckleball was sent in his direction and moved right under his glove and rolled to the wall at Progressive Field. But when he moved to left for Friday’s game, he didn’t have any of those types of hiccups. 

The ball always finds players who are out of position, just like it did when he played right field. It’s almost as if it’s baseball fate. So, Fry prepared himself appropriately, getting advice from coaches and fellow teammates about Wrigley’s outfield.

He was told to keep in mind that there’s little-to-no foul territory down the left-field line. He tried to remember each piece of advice he was given. And when he began the second inning with a relatively routine fly ball, it was a nice warmup for what was to come later in the frame. 

With two outs, Cubs center fielder Cody Bellinger sent a looping fly ball down the left-field line, on target to find the little-to-no foul territory area. Fry wasn’t slowing down. He saw an opportunity to make the play and was going to try. 

“They’re just like, ‘Make sure you know it’s there. Don’t be running into it,’” Fry said. “Of course, I slid right into it.” 

Fry slid feet-first into the wall down the left-field line, making the catch just inches before making contact with the wall.

“Luckily, it’s got enough padding,” Fry joked about the wall. 

It was a play that would’ve been difficult for any experienced outfielder -- let alone someone who was playing their first game there since 2021 for Milwaukee’s Double-A squad. But Fry continues to show his athleticism, taking on any position that he’s asked to play in order to give one of the starters a spell. 

“With David, just his willingness to really step in and take on any role in any situation has been a tremendous asset for the team,” Guardians general manager Mike Chernoff said last week. “He’s playing like he’s got eight years of service, despite only being in the big leagues for a short time.”

Just a few innings later, Fry became even more versatile than he thought he’d need to be.

With the club down 10 runs in the eighth and no off-days in sight before the All-Star break, Francona wanted to give his bullpen a rest, if at all possible.

He turned to Fry to see if he’d be willing to pitch an inning to save the ‘pen. Without hesitation, Fry agreed, having not pitched since he was in college. With eight pitches, he retired the side. 

“Just tried to throw as slow as I could,” Fry said with a laugh. “Make sure it was in the zone and get out of there as quick as I could.” 

After Friday’s game, Fry has now played first, third, catcher, right field, left field and pitched an inning in relief for the Guardians in just 23 games. In the Minors, he had primarily been playing third base this season, yet he’s been ready for whatever role the club has asked of him since he was promoted to the Majors.

“Just a good attitude. Got to see what happens,” Fry said of the key to staying ready. “A lot of faith. Just go out there and have fun.” 

With that mindset, Fry will be able to continue to handle whatever is thrown at him. And if he keeps that up, the Guardians are confident he’ll become even more valuable to the team. 

“Good for him,” Francona said. “He deserves it.”