Jeff Frazier grew up in New Jersey as a New York Mets fan, but seemingly everyone else he knew back home rooted for the Yankees. Which is why the 28-year-old outfielder took an extra measure of satisfaction in homering off Yankees ace CC Sabathia in the third inning of the Nationals’ 10-8 victory on Saturday.
He said he had at least 10 friends and family members in the stands, and heard numerous chants of “Jer-sey! Jer-sey!” as he rounded the bases. He also doubled in the fourth inning against Joba Chamberlain, as the Nationals forced both Sabathia and Chamberlain out of the game in mid-inning pitching changes.
Although Frazier has virtually no shot at making the Nationals’ roster out of spring training, he intrigued them after hitting 25 homers at Class AAA in the Detroit Tigers’ organization, and quickly signed him as a minor-league free agent this winter.
“I know he’s got power, and he demonstrated that in the minors,” Manager Jim Riggleman said. “He’s taken some great [batting practice]. He had a great one before the game. I’m just happy for him. He had a big day in front of his family. The ball definitely jumps off his bat.”
Frazier said he made a breakthrough last season by dropping his hands in his batting stance, and agreed with a description of him as a late-bloomer.
“It’s night and day with the power, compared with years before,” Frazier said. “I’d definitely say [I was a] late-bloomer, because I feel better now with my swing than I have at any time in my career.”