Clint Frazier was in the lineup for a third straight game Tuesday — but still just the second time in left field since June 4 — with the Yankees’ preference for Miguel Andujar at the spot becoming more clear.
It’s a significant change from the offseason and early part of the regular season, when the team was very public about Frazier having become the everyday left fielder with his performance in 2020.
“I think he understands the situation,’’ Aaron Boone said before the Yankees opened a series against the Royals in The Bronx on Tuesday. “He understands Miggy has come up here and earned playing time.”
Andujar has indeed provided a spark to a lineup that was badly in need of one, even if his defense in left needs work — especially on balls near the wall.
But with Frazier unable to put together a consistent stretch of success at the plate so far this year — as well as the season-ending wrist injury suffered by Aaron Hicks — it opened the door for Andujar.
“It hasn’t deterred him,” Boone said of Frazier’s altered role. “One thing I’m pleased with while this has gone on is he’s ready to play. His work hasn’t changed. He’s been ready for opportunities. When we have put him in there, he’s performed and delivered.”
Boone pointed to the previous two games, when Frazier had a key walk in Sunday’s win and had two hits on Saturday.
“My message to him has been, ‘Hey, continue to stay ready,’ ” Boone said. “‘All of a sudden, you’re right back in the mix or coming off the bench in a big spot. You’ve got to be ready.’ He understands that, and to his credit, has been.”
And Andujar doesn’t exactly have left field locked down. He’s cooled off at the plate lately, taking a 10 at-bat hitless streak into Tuesday and is just 2-for-20 in his previous six games. That followed a stretch in which Andujar forced his way into the lineup with five homers over eight games from May 31-June 9.
Asked about his decision-making process when it came to who would start in left, Boone said, “It’s kind of every day. You look at matchups. It’s a tough, close decision every day and performance is certainly gonna earn you more time.”
Frazier has been open about his struggles at the plate, admitting he’s been frustrated by not being able to take advantage of the chance he was given when he was named the starting left fielder by both Boone and general manager Brian Cashman prior to spring training.
He’s changed his batting stance more than once and shown flashes of what he delivered more regularly a year ago, but Andujar overtook him with a power surge and improved play in left.
“I’ve actually been pleased with how [Frazier] has responded in the last week or 10 days when he’s lost some playing time and regular playing time,’’ Boone said. “We’ve seen him come off the bench and have meaningful at-bats for us … [and] his work has been really good.”
The work hasn’t translated into prolonged success this season.
Over his previous 13 games, Frazier entered Tuesday 6-for-29, with three doubles, no homers, one RBI, four walks and 13 strikeouts in 34 plate appearances.