Pittsburgh Pirates' Adam Frazier, right, celebrates with teammate Chris Stewart (19) after both scored on a three-run double by Pirates' David Freese off Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw in the second inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, June 26, 2016. Gene J. PuskarAP Photo
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PITTSBURGH -- With Pirates manager Clint Hurdle using an exclusively right-handed hitting lineup against Dodgers lefty ace Clayton Kershaw, rookie Adam Frazier knew he’d be waiting for his chance.
He just didn’t know he’d have such a short wait.
“You always want to be in the lineup," said the left-handed hitting Frazier before the game. “To face the best would be pretty cool, but I’ll be ready.”
Frazier’s attitude proved to be prophetic as he entered the game after just one inning when Jordy Mercer collided with Chase Utley at second base and left the game with head and right ear discomfort.
Frazier, who was in the International League as its leading hitter just two days ago, went in to play right field and Sean Rodriguez moved to shortstop.
In the bottom of the second, Frazier got his chance to face Kershaw, with the bases loaded and two outs no less. The first left-handed batter Kershaw faced, Frazier laced a one ball-two strike pitch to left field to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. He then scored the fourth run on David Freese’s double.
“I was just trying to stay within myself,” said Frazier after the game. “He got ahead early and I just tried to drive it through the middle. The pitch may have been a little up.”
Although Frazier’s performance may have seemed like a storybook script -- especially when he got another hit his next time up against Kershaw -- it wasn’t the least likely part of the scenario.
Frazier was drafted in the sixth round in 2013 as a shortstop from Mississippi State and he entered for his most extended play in right field and someone else moved to shortstop. He showed his comfort level at the new position with a diving catch on Trayce Thompson in the seventh inning. He then moved to left field after Andrew McCutchen was ejected.
“I hadn’t played the outfield at all until I got my feet wet last year,” said Frazier, who is now listed as an outfielder on the roster after being listed as an infielder in spring training. “I played the majority of time out there this year but the more positions you can play, the more valuable you can be to the team.
“This is everything I’ve been dreaming of since I started playing at four or five years old but nothing has really been surprising so far. I’ve been preparing pretty well for this all through the minor leagues and in spring training.”
After finishing the game with a pair of singles off Kershaw and barely missing a third hit when Dodgers left fielder Howie Kendrick made a diving catch, it looks like Frazier won’t he returning to Indianapolis right away. That’s fine with him, even though his travel schedule has been intense.
“I was coming off an eight-game trip road when I was called up,” Frazier said. “I’ve had to get clean clothes and now I’ll be scrambling to get them here before the plan leaves Monday.
“I’ve never even been to Seattle or Oakland. I was an Atlanta Braves fan, growing up about an hour from there so Chipper Jones and all those guys, I idolized them. About all I knew about Seattle growing up was Ken Griffey Jr.”
Now he’ll get to learn about Seattle. That can’t be any tougher than getting two hits off Clayton Kershaw and learning new positions.