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Yankees’ Clint Frazier’s defensive confidence at all-time high

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TAMPA — If it looked like Clint Frazier was moving around better in the outfield last season, consider the weight he was no longer carrying with him as he chased down every ball hit his way.

“Ultimately, I think I made enough plays in a row for me to have all the weight off my shoulders going forward and feeling comfortable and part of the team out there,” Frazier said.

It showed, earning the Yankees’ new starting left fielder another new title on his résumé to prove it: Gold Glove finalist. The 2020 AL Gold Glove in right field ultimately went to Joey Gallo, but the fact that Frazier was even a finalist, after a brutal 2019 season in which his defensive struggles were just one of his problems, has him entering this season high on confidence.

“That was a really cool moment, just because of everything that happened in 2019 and then the way that 2020 started off for me, getting sent to the alternate site and then coming back and getting an immediate chance to go out there and play,” Frazier said Tuesday on a Zoom call from Sarasota, where he went 1-for-3 with an RBI in the Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Orioles. “It was a special way to top off a good 2020 for me.”

Aaron Boone said Frazier made sure he let the Yankees know he was a finalist, after a season in which he registered four defensive runs saved in 216 innings in right field while filling in for the injured Aaron Judge.

Clint Frazier's defense is much-improved.
Clint Frazier’s defense is much-improved.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“He blew us all up [via text message],” Boone said with a laugh. “We’ve seen the work over the last couple years suggest that he can become a very good defensive outfielder. We saw that turn into results last year. We saw a much more confident player, whether in his routes, the speed in which he moved out there because I think there was a confidence in what he was doing. … So he let us know he was a finalist, in his way.”

According to Frazier, Boone texted him about a gold chain and Frazier responded by sending back gold nuggets.

But Frazier believes there’s more where that came from, echoing a talk with first-base coach/outfield instructor Reggie Willits shortly after he was named a finalist.

“It was more so [Willits] trying to tell me, ‘Hey, if that’s what you can do in one year, imagine what you can do in two years and on top of that, three,’ ” Frazier said. “So I’m trying to just continue to build off the foundation that I created last year and continue to go out there and show 2019 was a fluke. It shouldn’t have happened, but it did. I’m ready to put it past me.”

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