Clint Frazier is hoping he has done enough to stick around a little longer.
Aaron Boone threw him a test Thursday by batting him leadoff and sticking him in center field — both major-league firsts — and Frazier came through, going 2-for-4 with a run as the Yankees finished off a sweep of the Mariners, 4-3.
Frazier’s status in pinstripes could be in question once Brett Gardner (knee) is deemed fully healthy — Boone said he expected him to be good for Friday’s series opener in Tampa Bay — but that hasn’t stopped the 23-year-old redhead from trying to do anything he can to stay.
“I’ve thought about it every day,” Frazier said. “Every time I’ve come up here, I’ve tried to do my best to be prepared. I feel like I’ve held my own since I’ve been up here. If it means playing every other day, I’m fine with that. I want to be on this team. I’m here to fill whatever role they want to put me in.”
A healthy Gardner would give the Yankees five outfielders — including the red-hot Aaron Hicks, who got the day off Thursday — but Boone said he thinks “there’s an avenue” to keep Frazier on the team and avoid sending him back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for a third time this year.
“We’re kind of just day-by-day right now based on different guys and our needs in the rotation and how many guys we want to keep,” Boone said. “But he’s taken advantage of opportunities. He’s earned his way up here a few different times when we’ve had to send him back with the work he’s putting in, with the production he’s getting down there.”
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Boone has been most impressed by Frazier’s quality of at-bats. Frazier has now reached base safely and scored a run in all seven games in which he has appeared this season. He has seven hits in 19 at-bats.
On Thursday, the righty-hitting Frazier took both of his singles the opposite way to beat the Mariners’ shift.
“They had me [shifted] up the middle a lot, so I was trying to stick to right field,” Frazier said. “Every pitch they threw me it felt like it was on the outer half, so I was just trying to go where the ball was thrown.”
Gardner has not played since Saturday, but got through a full workout Wednesday and expects to play this weekend despite Tropicana Field’s artificial turf.
“I’m not worried about it,’’ Gardner said. “I’ve never really felt different [on the turf] in Toronto or Tampa. … I haven’t dealt with a knee thing like this, but I’m encouraged.”
Additional reporting by Dan Martin
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