NEW YORK — Both the Yankees and Cubs were set to have players facing their former teams for the first time, but that changed before 5 pm on Friday evening at Yankee Stadium.
Clint Frazier, a former Yankee, was designated for assignment by the Cubs prior to Friday’s series opener in a series of transactions made by the team. Frazier was among four players that the Cubs either sat down, designated for assignment or placed on the injured list on Friday.
“He was upset,” said Cubs manager David Ross. “Emotional would be a good word. I think he likes it here a lot and he believes in his baseball skills, which we do too. I think it’s just one of those really tough decisions we have to make sometimes, which stink and nobody wants to make those.”
The issue for Frazier, much like it was with the Yankees, was a lack of opportunities. Frazier played in 19 games this season for the Cubs and made only 45 plate appearances in that span. Frazier had eight hits with the Cubs and drove in a single run with a batting average of .216. Frazier averaged just over 160 plate appearances across five seasons with the Yankees before being released last November by the team.
“We needed a roster spot,” Ross said about the move. “I think it’s a spot where we haven’t given him real opportunities to watch him succeed right now. I think we think a lot of Clint and his ability, but we just haven’t been able to, with the appendix and the limited at-bats. It was just one of those tough decisions.”
Frazier has dealt with injuries throughout his career, the latest being a bout with appendicitis, which required surgery and an IL stint in April.
Frazier was outspoken about his time in New York prior to this series. In an interview with Maddie Lee of the Chicago Sun-Times published Thursday, Frazier spoke about his time with the Yankees
”I like it here,” Frazier told Lee about his time with the Cubs. ”Certainly don’t miss some of the things over there. And I’m really enjoying the way that this clubhouse has maneuvered. It seems like there’s a lot of guys in here that are just accepting of everyone. And it’s been really good for me.”
Fraizer was not seen in the Cubs clubhouse at Yankee Stadium during media availability on Friday. Frazier does now sport a beard, which was against team rules when with the Yankees.
”And you had to be a cookie-cutter version to be on that team,” Frazier said. ”If not, then you were, like, a really bad distraction, it seemed like. So I don’t miss being told how I had to look for the last five years.”
Rizzo compares Yankees for championship Cubs team
Frazier won’t be playing in Friday’s opener against his former team, but Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo will be. Rizzo will face the Cubs on Friday for the first time since he was traded to the Yankees last July. The last time Rizzo was an opponent of the Cubs was his rookie season of 2011, when he came up with the San Diego Padres. Rizzo spent 10 seasons in Chicago, winning four Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger and a World Series in 2016.
Rizzo now compares that championship caliber that the Cubs had when he was there to the current Yankees team, who entered Friday night with baseball’s best record at 41-16. Rizzo used Thursday’s comeback over the Twins as an example of that.
“You go off your past experiences and try not to compare things, but yesterday was a prime example of just a championship team,” Rizzo said before Friday’s game.
Rizzo has 14 home runs for the Yankees, who hit at least four home runs as a team for the eighth time this season. The 2022 Yankees are tied with the 1926 edition of the team with identical 41-16 records through 57 games. It’s the seventh time in team history that the Yankees have had at least 41 wins among their first 57 games. The Yankees have reached the World Series in all six previous instances.