After struggles with Yankees, Clint Frazier feeling rejuvenated with Cubs: 'I feel like I've been here for a lot longer than a few weeks'

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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Outfielder Clint Frazier had a smile creasing through his scruffy red beard before taking to Wrigley Field on Opening Day for the first time in a Cubs uniform.

“I feel like I've been here for a lot longer than a few weeks,” Frazier said Thursday before the Cubs' 5-4 win against the Brewers in their opener.

Frazier, 27, has embraced his fresh start in Chicago after six challenging years in New York. He can now grow out his beard and red hair after it was prohibited by the Yankees organization. He has joined a Cubs clubhouse with many players who were similarly cast aside by their former teams. It's a comforting culture for Frazier, who can be himself with the Cubs.

“He’s got a lot of self-confidence, which is fun to see,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “The way he’s gone about his business so far, he’s been really professional. I think he feels rejuvenated here.”

The No. 5 overall pick in the 2013 MLB amateur draft, Frazier was dealt by Cleveland to the New York Yankees during the 2016 season as part of a package centered around prized reliever Andrew Miller. Frazier was a top prospect, but his opportunities in New York came sparingly. He struggled to emerge among a crowded Yankees outfield, suffered concussions that hindered his development and fell out of favor with the front office.

The Yankees released Frazier last November, and the Cubs acted quickly, signing him to a one-year deal eight days later – just prior to the lockout beginning.

Frazier wasn't in the Cubs’ lineup on Opening Day but said pregame he was “expecting to get a pinch-hit in a big opportunity.” Sure enough, Frazier pinch-hit in the bottom of the seventh inning of a 3-3 game and ripped a double that sparked the Cubs’ two-run rally in their eventual 5-4 victory.

“Oh, I mean, it’s pretty high right now,” Frazier said of his confidence.

Frazier posted a slash line of .240/.328/.436 over 808 plate appearances with the Yankees. His best stretch in New York came from 2019-’20, as he hit .267 with 20 home runs and 64 RBIs over 406 plate appearances. But Frazier bottomed out in 2021, when he hit .186 while dealing with concussion symptoms.

This offseason, Frazier began his work by first focusing on his health. He took part in a unique rehabilitation program that stimulated his nervous system and aimed to eliminate his symptoms.

Frazier is feeling healthy and now has a fresh start with a team that believes in him.

“Obviously, things didn’t end in New York the way that I anticipated it,” Frazier said. “But I think that things are going to be looking good here if I get the opportunity and obviously if I can capitalize on it, that will help.

“It’s a big step forward for me because I feel like I kind of stayed in place the last few years and didn’t get the chance to progress. I’m excited right now.

"They’ve definitely opened the door for people to be themselves."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

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