Clint Frazier was just trying to keep his teammates safe. The Yankees outfielder was not intending to make a political statement. After saying he would be wearing a mask to try and keep himself and his teammates safe while playing in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, Frazier said he got called a “sheep” on social media for his decision.
“It was interesting. I got a lot of positive feedback, I got a lot of negative feedback as well just from wearing the mask,” Frazier said Friday afternoon before the Yankees’ intrasquad scrimmage. “A lot of people have their own opinions, but the way that I’m trying to go about it is, it’s my decision and our teammates need to stay safe and as long as we continue to band together and try to stay safe with this, we’ll finish the season probably where we want which is hopefully hoisting the trophy and being World Series champs.
“But the only way to get there is to stay healthy and to stay together,” Frazier added.
MLB is trying to play baseball while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the country. As of Friday afternoon, it had infected 3.5 million Americans and killed nearly 138,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It’s so tricky a prospect that not until Friday morning, six days before the game, the Nationals did not have clearance by the District of Columbia to stage the game at Nationals Park.
Baseball was hoping to be something of a salve, or at least a pleasant distraction, for the country after four months of fighting this battle, the economy tanking and weeks of civil unrest protesting systematic racism in the country.
But with a simple face covering, Frazier found himself in the middle of a political debate.
Frazier ironically is a native of the state of Georgia, the latest epicenter of the mask-wearing debate. The governor is suing the mayor of Atlanta to try and get her mandate that masks be worn in public overturned. Frazier has been one of two Yankees players who have worn face coverings on the field during the intrasquad games. Backup catcher Kyle Higashioka is wearing a gaiter, which can be pushed down around the neck and then easily pulled up over the mouth and nose. Higashioka decided to wear it when catching because he is in such close proximity to the batter and umpire, but he does not feel comfortable wearing it while hitting.
Frazier has worn a more traditional mask on the field and a gaiter in the batter’s box. Last week, he talked about his decision, emphasizing that he did not want to be the one that causes someone else to get sick, particularly a teammate.
He was hailed by many in baseball as showing maturity after years of having made some questionable decisions and comments. And then he logged onto social media.
“I got called a sheep by some people. But it’s all good. I mean obviously, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but with the situation that we’re in with how fragile this is...I’m not really too worried about the negative feedback because moving forward, I think it’s the right thing to protect myself, others around me and everyone else that everyone goes home to,” Frazier said. “It has affected us and we want to win the World Series and the way to do that is to be healthy.
“So if it means wearing a mask upsets people, I am not really too worried about that one as far as what the ultimate goal is here, which is to, you know, make it out of this safe and win a World Series.”
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