HOUSTON -- As the Yankees swept the Angels this past weekend, Christopher Austin watched one of the games from an Angel Stadium luxury suite, surrounded by flat-screen televisions, unlimited food and beverages, and many of the other creature comforts a modern fan would desire.
He was miserable.
Austin's four-game suspension expired on Tuesday, and the first baseman/outfielder was reinstated on the active roster and put in the lineup, batting eighth. Though he has no regrets about his role in the benches-clearing incident at Fenway Park on April 11, charging the mound after being hit by Joe Kelly of the Red Sox, Austin said that serving the suspension had been a struggle.
"It's horrible. Horrible," Austin said. "You don't get a chance to get out there and help the team, and really, I hurt the team because we were a guy short the whole time I was gone. You never want to have anything like that happen, but it's over with now, and we can move forward."
Austin was able to work out with the Yankees prior to each of the four games in Los Angeles, but he had to vacate the clubhouse prior to the first pitch. Manager Aaron Boone hoped it would be almost like an extra All-Star break for the 26-year-old Austin.
"I'm excited to have him back," Boone said. "He's played really well for us. Hopefully he can get in there and have an impact."
Unlike Kelly, who was suspended for six games and sampled a few Fenway seating areas during that time, Austin had no desire to roam the grandstand. On the three days he didn't watch his team in Anaheim, he went back to the hotel, ordered dinner and watched the game on TV.
"I want to be on the field, and I want to help the team win," Austin said. "I didn't have a good time up there, to say the least."
One day after Sonny Gray lauded his connection with Austin Romine and made it clear that he would prefer to continue throwing to the backup catcher, Gary Sanchez said he will be on board with whatever helps the team win when Gray is on the hill.
"What I want is for [Gray] to do good, to be effective, because if he's good and effective, it's going to benefit the team as a whole," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "In the future, if I need to catch him, I'll do the adjustments and whatever I need to do to make sure that he's comfortable and pitching well. I'll do that. That's the most important thing here.
"This is a team. It's a long season, and as long as we're getting good results, that's all that matters. Sonny has great stuff. I've always said it's getting ahead in the count and attacking hitters. [On Monday] night he was able to do that. I saw him do that much better. To me, that's the key to him."
Boone said that although Romine has proven to be excellent at making adjustments on the fly, he also believes Sanchez is better at that task than he is receiving credit for.
Romine is scheduled to catch Gray's next start, on May 5 vs. the Indians.
"We just want to get Sonny jump-started," Boone said. "Even before, when I didn't want to go [with a] personal catcher, I was still probably leaning toward -- when it made sense, schedule-wise -- [having] Ro catch him, because I knew that there was a strong rapport there. That is important, and that matters to me.
"My goal, though, would be not to be married to that and to get to a point where eventually we get away from that. But when the schedule makes sense and we can line up that off-day for Gary, we'll try to do that -- especially as we try and continue to build momentum with Sonny."
Clint Frazier has joined Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to continue his Minor League rehab; Boone said that the Yankees have not decided if they will promote Frazier to the big leagues or keep him on the roster of their top farm club when that rehab is complete.
"It'll be a tough call," Boone said. "He's a talented player that has had success at the high levels of the Minor Leagues. He's had a taste and some success in the big leagues, and we know the talent. So honestly, it'll be something that we evaluate based on our teams and how we think he's performing, but we know we have somebody that's capable of impacting our club and that we have a good option there."