Todd Frazier made his name in the New York area as a star player on the Toms River (N.J.) Little League World Series champion team, but nearly two decades after that feat, he created news in his Yankees home debut in rather ignominious fashion.
“I think I might have set a record for first-ever at-bat at the Yankees getting a triple play,” Frazier said after the Bombers’ 4-2 win over Cincinnati Tuesday night. “I mean that’s got to be a record. It’s funny to laugh about it now, but at the time I was a little upset.”
Frazier’s triple-play groundout was helped by a Didi Gregorius base-running gaffe, but the Yankee shortstop made amends later in the game when he smashed a solo home run (his 15th of the season) that gave the Yankees an important insurance run.
What Yankee manager Joe Girardi called a “strange play” started after Matt Holliday, Gregorius and Chase Headley hit consecutive singles off Reds starter Luis Castillo to open the second inning. Frazier came to the plate with the opportunity to do some damage in his Yankee Bronx debut, but instead hit into a rare triple play. Frazier worked a 3-1 count before scorching a line drive up the middle. Cincinnati shortstop Jose Peraza fielded the ball on a hop, and then stepped on second base to start a double play.
Gregorius started toward third when the ball was hit, but hesitated off the bag as Peraza fielded the ball.
“It’s a line drive, so you’ve got to go back on a line drive. I tried to go back to the bag,” said Gregorius. “I was kind of right in between. I started running to third, but then I was caught halfway. You know, it happens.”
Gregorius was ultimately tagged out by Peraza after getting caught in a rundown between second and third, but Holliday scored the first run of the game before the third out was recorded. The triple play was scored 6-6-3-3-5-6 and Frazier did not get credit for an RBI.
“I think somebody asked for the ball,” Frazier joked after the game. “It was just unbelievable. You get into a hitter’s count and away it goes. We got a run in, which helped. At the same time, hopefully that doesn’t ever happen again.” The last Yankee to hit into a triple play was Russell Martin on Sept. 27, 2011 at Tampa Bay.
Frazier, who was acquired by the Yankees in a trade with the White Sox last week, said aside from his first at-bat Tuesday, the whole Yankee Stadium debut as a member of the Bombers was “a really great experience, not only for me, but for my family and friends.”
Frazier had said before the game that he expected 500-600 Toms River residents to attend the game, and as he spoke to reporters after the win, his 3-year-old son Blake, sporting a mean Mohawk and a Frazier T-shirt, sat in the chair below him. Frazier said he was most nervous for what to do during the traditional Bleacher Creature roll call at the start of the game.
“I was asking everybody what to do. Kind of gave that Shooter McGavin kind of thing from “Happy Gilmore.” Couple guys liked it, so I guess I’ve got to go with that from now on,” said Frazier, who was 1-for-2 Tuesday. “It was unbelievable. It was a great experience all the way around, from start to finish. Didi coming up big (with the home run), and (Aroldis) Chapman sealing the deal (with the save).”
BIRD GIVES WORD
First baseman Greg Bird, who had right ankle surgery to remove a bone July 18, was wearing a boot at his locker Tuesday.
Bird, who only played in 19 games this season, didn’t rule out being able to play baseball again in 2017, although that would seem to be a long shot at best.
“I went through the shoulder thing,” Bird said, referring to the right shoulder injury that required surgery and sidelined him all of last year. “I don’t think it’ll be anywhere close to that which is great. So far it has bounced back quick and that’s exciting. The thing the doctor was telling me, there’s not an exact timetable. Take the bone out, let the wound heal and progress. It sucks. There’s no other way to put it. I’m just more excited to work towards feeling better and feeling normal if you will.”
Girardi said the team is “encouraged” with where Bird is at this juncture.
BIG MIKE’S LAST DANCE IN PINSTRIPES?
Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda spoke to reporters Tuesday for the first time since undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery, and the pending free agent said, “obviously the timing is not good.”
The 28-year-old Dominican, who came to the Bombers before the 2012 season in a trade with Seattle, was 8-4 this season with the Yanks before the surgery.
“I can’t say disappointed, because it’s something that I had not control of,” said Pineda, who switched between English and Spanish. “I feel sad for myself because at the moment that this happens, not only me, but to the team, we’re in a spot where we’re competing. Going down is tough.”
Will there be a Pineda reboot in the Bronx after he enters free agency?
“I don’t know if it’s going to be my last game. Hopefully no. But that is something not in my control,” said Pineda.
… Girardi said outfielder Aaron Hicks (right oblique strain) and first baseman Tyler Austin (right hamstring strain) “have hit off the tee and will start to take some swings probably in the cage” soon. Girardi said Austin ran Tuesday. “When we’ll get them back, I don’t know exactly,” said Girardi… The Yankees had a moment of silence before Tuesday’s game for legendary announcer Bob Wolff who died July 15 at 96. Wolff called Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956 World Series.