Frasor looking to set stage for Royals' bullpen
Veteran reliever's goal is to hand ball over to Davis, Holland late in ballgames
BOSTON -- Jason Frasor was a ballyhooed high school shortstop in the Chicago area in 1995 -- .536 batting average and all-everything.
Oh, and he could pitch a little, too. Frasor was 8-1 with a 0.79 ERA for Oak Forest High with, according to a Chicago newspaper at the time, three no-hitters. Mention of that drew a double take from Frasor.
"That last part was a misprint," he said. "I had zero no-hitters."
How did Frasor choose to become a pitcher instead of a shortstop? That came about when he took the only Division I college scholarship offer he received, from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
"I signed for books. I went down there, not knowing if I was going to pitch or if I was going to hit," Frasor said. "And they said, 'You're going to be a pitcher.' And I just took off from there. I wasn't going to be a hitter."
Nearly two decades later, Frasor is still pitching, now out of the Royals' bullpen after being obtained last Wednesday in a trade that sent Minor League pitcher Spencer Patton to the last-place Rangers, in a move to start unloading veterans.
"You never know, especially with a last-place team," Frasor said. "They're going to have some tryouts for young guys and you've got to make space. And I was the first to go."
Frasor, who'll be 37 on Aug. 9, was brought in to help fill some of the void left when Tim Collins and Louis Coleman were shipped to Triple-A Omaha. Manager Ned Yost said Frasor will mix in with Kelvin Herrera and Aaron Crow as bridges to setup man Wade Davis and closer Greg Holland.
"What we did so well last year was win those one- and two-run games late," Yost said. "We're in pretty good shape when we get to the eighth inning, but this just gives us a little more depth in the sixth and seventh."
Frasor's Minor League development with the Tigers -- he was a 33rd round pick in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft -- was slowed by two Tommy John surgeries.
"Twice and a little cleanup in between. That slowed the growing process and the learning process," he said. "I was a starter through all that and then I got traded to the Dodgers and then, by default, I was like 'demoted' to the bullpen. I wasn't a Dodger guy, I wasn't 6-foot-4 and what I found was, this is where I need to be. The bullpen, this is it. It's a better spot."
Frasor eventually became a regular in the Blue Jays' bullpen from 2004 to 2012 (except for a brief interlude with the White Sox). He came to the Royals with a background of 624 Major League relief appearances.
"I'm an inning guy. Go for an inning and pass the baton," Frasor said. "That's what they [the Rangers] had me do. I guess it depends on how you're doing that day. If you're going smoothly, then keep on going."
"Try to get the ball to Wade Davis, then try to get it to Mr. Holland. Pass the baton."
Frasor did just that in his Royals debut in Saturday night's 2-1 loss to the Red Sox. Relieving Danny Duffy with two out and two on in the seventh, Frasor got the third out and passed the baton to Davis.
Davis pitched a perfect eighth, but the Royals couldn't score, so the baton never reached Holland.