Cubs: Clint Frazier credits change of scenery for strong spring

Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

Arguably the biggest story coming out of Cubs camp with just a week until Opening Day is outfielder Clint Frazier who, in his first year with the team, is making a name for himself in Cactus League action.

Frazier, a former first-round pick, failed to live up to the lofty expectations of Yankees fans during his time in the Bronx. But he didn’t bring that disappointment with him to Mesa and has actually credited this change of scenery and new organization with his hot start.

"“I feel like I’m playing baseball for the first time,” he told Marquee. “I felt like I was in a reality TV show the last 5 years in New York with all the drama and how much news reporters were constantly following. It just feels good to come over here and focus on baseball for the first time.”"

Chicago can certainly be a media circus – just ask Kris Bryant – but it’s a different animal than New York. Another key difference is what folks are expecting out of Frazier on the North Side. He’s looked at as a wild card the front office is hoping they can hit on – in New York, he was a centerpiece in a trade that sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland. That came with much higher demands than what he’s currently facing with the Cubs.

Cubs aren’t expected to do much – and that could help Clint Frazier

Between that and the fact that no one really expects much out of this team, as a whole, it’s about as low-pressure of a transition one could hope for coming to the Windy City. Over the years, Frazier has shown plenty of flashes, but has never really maintained it outside of the COVID-shortened 2020 season, when he threw up a 150 OPS+.

"“I’m excited to get a new environment to be in — one that I hope accepts me for who I am and one that wants me to be there,” Frazier said. “The fans, I know they’re electric. … I’m excited to get out there and see if I can hit one out of that stadium.”"

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His showing this spring makes him a frontrunner for a spot on the roster, despite a very crowded outfield picture. He’s got multiple years of team control left – so if he’s finally healthy and at 100 percent, Frazier has all the makings of a major steal and one that could pay dividends both in 2022 and beyond.