Thumbs Up for Todd Frazier After Rehabbing in Brooklyn

One year makes a world of difference for Todd Frazier. After joining the Yankees as a midseason acquisition from the White Sox last summer, Frazier endeared himself to the Bronx, recording a .365 on-base percentage and leading the Yankees to within a game of the AL Pennant.

Fast forward a year and Frazier finds himself experiencing the most challenging season of his big league career after joining the crosstown Mets with two separate stints on the DL and a team far removed from playoff contention. Since July 9, Frazier hasn’t seen the field, due to a pulled muscle in his ribcage, but recently began a rehab assignment, which concluded with the Brooklyn Cyclones on Wednesday.

“It’s been very frustrating,” Frazier said about his injuries. “I talked to a lot of guys about it, and they said that it’s just one of those years that you have. I felt good coming in here (with the Mets), and it’s one of those things you have to put behind you, come back out, and dominate the rest of this season.”

In two games with the Cyclones, Frazier had two hits in eight at-bats and hit a solo home run on Tuesday off Tri-City ValleyCats’ pitcher Juan Pablo Lopez. Frazier collected the Cyclones’ first hit in Wednesday’s 3-2 victory against Tri-City and felt confident coming out of a rehab stint that started in Port St. Lucie on Saturday. He looks forward to rejoining the Mets during their upcoming series against the Atlanta Braves.

“I feel good. I feel ready to go,” Frazier said after completing his rehab assignment. “I feel ready to get back over there tomorrow (to Citi Field) and hopefully have some winning ways. It was a tough road trip for the team, so I’m looking forward to meeting the team and seeing the guys. I just want to get home seeing the guys and basically get these last two months to end on a positive note.”

“He looks good,” Cyclones manager Edgardo Alfonzo said. “He just wants to see some live pitching and play some games to get back to where he wants. I think he brought a lot to the guys (on the Cyclones) with the way he plays the game and hopefully, they picked up some of those things. I told them not to be afraid to ask them questions, because it may help them later in their careers.”

Last winter, Frazier initially hoped he would return to the Yankees, but the team wasn’t willing to sign him to anything longer than a one-year deal with prized rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar waiting in the wings on the verge of the big leagues. With the desire to remain close to his New Jersey roots, Frazier instead signed a two-year deal, $17 million contract with the Mets.

“What sticks out for me was how fun (the Yankees’ 2017 postseason run) was,” Frazier said. “We did not lose a single game at home in the postseason. The crowd was raucous. It kind of brought back that Yankee feel. It was good for my family, and me and my son got to be there, and those are the things I cherish. Hopefully, my son will remember all the good things that happened to me in this game.”

The veteran-laden roster had high expectations following an 11-1 start under first-year manager Mickey Callaway and Frazier leading the way batting .313/.453/.542 in the first 15 games. But a DL stint for a strained left hamstring in May curtailed momentum for both Frazier and the franchise as injuries littered the Mets roster. Now the organization finds themselves hoping to finish the season on a more positive note, looking ahead to 2019.

“Any type of winning culture is something we want to establish (with the Mets),” Frazier said. “At the end of the day, it’s about winning games. We were 11-1 to start the year, and we hit rock bottom. There’s no rhyme or reason, but that’s baseball. You have to play every game, and it’s just one of those years that we had, and we have to come out focused and be prepared and be ready for next year.

As the Mets begin looking toward their future, they will rely on Frazier’s leadership abilities to help their young prospects, such as Amed Rosario, Jeff McNeil, and Drew Smith, who figure to have expanded roles down the stretch. The off-field intangibles possessed by Frazier holds great importance to a team seeking to gain an infusion of youth at the big league level.

“I’ve always had a leadership role,” Frazier said. “We have some new guys coming up (from the minor leagues). For me, I love teaching. I love learning from everybody, and these guys have to learn the right way, and if there are any problems, we will take care of things.”

Frazier’s rehab assignment was a return to Brooklyn of sorts after playing at then-Keyspan Park for Rutgers in the 2007 Big East Tournament. The Scarlet Knights set a school-record with 42 wins during the regular season with Frazier earning Big East Player of the Year honors. Stepping on the field a decade later brought back some fond memories for Frazier in one of the brightest moments for the program.

“The only thing that changed is that it’s now a turf field,” Frazier said. “We won the Big East Tournament, and it was something we really enjoyed. I was player of the tournament and it kind of kickstarted my career here, so I have to thank the Cyclones’ stadium. It brought back a lot of good memories with the guys I’m with and the team.”

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