"My wrist is fine, I still wrap it everyday, but it feels good."
That's Alex Frazier, talking calmly about something there's no reason to be
calm about. Truth be told, Frazier might be better off not being in the
Arizona Fall League. The left fielder put himself on the Diamondbacks map
in 2004, when he hit .313 with 20 homers and 80 RBI for the South Bend
Silverhawks of the Midwest League, and though his power numbers had started
slowly with the Lancaster JetHawks in 2005, he'd begun driving the ball again
about the middle of May, and just one day before his injury, had cracked a
mammoth shot over the left field wall.
"I've had ups and downs this season, but I won't complain about it," Frazier
said after batting practice in the Arizona Fall League, where he is part time
member of the Phoenix Desert Dogs, "I'd like to get my average up a little bit,
but I think the power came back."
'Part time' is a literal term. Frazier is a member of the AFL's 'Taxi
Squad,' a group of players who are only eligible on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
It isn't the most pleasant of situations for Frazier.
"It's tough to get in a groove when you're only playing once a week," Frazier
says. So why even accept the invitation? "I've got to get some of
those at bats back from when I was out. You don't get better unless you're
working, and even when I'm not playing, I'm still out here taking batting
practice, working on my defense."
He's tough, and nobody's tried to deny that. But he's also honored.
"I was excited when I was asked," Frazier says of the invite to the AFL, "I'd
have come here if I had a broken leg."
For now Frazier is still wrapping the wrist. Wednesday he took batting
practice for the first time without it wrapped.
"It felt good." Frazier said with a hint of surprise in his voice. So
is the wrap off for good? "Oh no," he said with a shocked look, "I'll keep
wrapping it, because if I tried to check my swing now, I'd end up on the
surgeon's table. It's just one of those things that's not going to heal
until I give it a month off with no work."
That's not an option for Frazier now, though it might be soon. The
wrist appears to bother him when he swings, and coupled with limited playing
time, he's struggled in the Fall League. Wednesday he made only his fourth
appearance in the league, which is now almost 20 games old. He's just
1-12, and has struck out in six of his last seven at bats.
"I'm trying to keep my swing in the zone longer, hit through the ball."
Frazier says, "It's a process, and I know the wrist isn't helping, but what I
learn here I can take back to Clearwater [Florida, where Frazier trains in the
offseason], and when I'm 100% again it'll help."
Still playing the game the same way, giving 100%, even when he doesn't have
it to give.