(Although, to be honest, steal a few undiscovered and unfiltered nostril breaths when you are safely removed from anyone who must have reached the top of the list of best guilty pleasures for summer 2020).
Which brings us to Clint Frazier.
Now, if we’re charitable, the best way to describe Frazier’s 123-game tour over three years with the Yankees is this: it’s not boring. He has a great bat speed … and sometimes seems to be playing the outside field for the very first time. He was in a bad mood. He fought more injuries than a 25-year-old should ever have, especially a concussion that took a huge bite of 2018. Cracking the lineup was tough, staying there even harder.
You may, on occasion, have had reasons to dispute its maturity.
Except that the Yankees have opened spring training 2.0, there is one player who has spent every second of his time on the ground at Yankee Stadium bemasked. Protocols require them in the dugout, at the clubhouse. But the players are free to play their positions on the field without a mask. They are free to take their hacks outdoors – in the cage or during training games – without them.
Frazier maintains it. All the time.
“I think,” he said on Sunday, “that it is an easy task to do.”
It is certainly a deeply responsible path to take, and perhaps not the one you would have planned for Frazier, who has shown a propensity to walk towards his own drummer. It actually does it here too, but not in the way we might have expected.
” There are two [other] people in the [batter’s] box with me, “said Frazier, addressing the constant 800-pound elephant that will exist on every field of the season as it is impossible for the batter, catcher and referee to do anything from a distance approximate to the social distance, the only place on the ground where such a stacking is likely (with the exception of three fielders converging on a pop fly).
“I’m just trying to do my best to make sure I’m responsible, not only for myself but for everyone else I come in contact with. ”
It’s a good credo in all respects, and it’s not easy – especially when he wears the bigger, thicker mask on the plate as opposed to the standard mask he wears in the field. Frazier whipped a Gerrit Cole slider in his first bat attack in Sunday’s intrasquad match, a task that is mostly unsuccessful for right-handed hitters regardless of equipment they choose, but the mask doesn’t help much . Leading bases, playing in the field – Frazier intends to keep the mask even when the game starts and when it is also part of his job description.
“We have a big platform,” said Frazier, “and the Yankees are making this platform twice as big. There are a lot of people watching. I want to keep my health in mind and keep others in mind too. ”
It will be interesting to see if Frazier can stick to this intention – and if others choose to join him in what is a 100% noble gesture. Not everyone has taken the plunge, as baseball can be tough enough without adding a few additional degrees of difficulty.
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“All we can do is do our part,” said Brett Gardner, who has taken care to hide himself wherever necessary but has not yet worn them during games. “We have to be as smart as possible.”
And for baseball players, who are the ultimate habitual and routine creatures, adding something new to the mix isn’t always easy. Yankees manager Aaron Boone admitted that on a few occasions he caught himself leaving rooms without the mask and had to back up to catch it.
“Over time, I think we are all becoming increasingly vigilant,” said Boone. “And you hope you don’t have to think about it at some point.” ”
Frazier isn’t trying to set someone else’s agenda, he’s just doing his part. But in a baseball season so unlike any previous one, it could actually be the most essential first team act a player can do.
“It is the survival of the fittest, everyone is trying not to contract the virus,” he said. “The one with the most people at the end – it’s probably the team with the best chances. “