DETROIT – It’s going to take more than a seven-game losing streak or 15 losses in 19 games to sour third baseman Todd Frazier on the White Sox.
You might recall when Frazier spent all of a couple weeks with his new team in spring training that the Jersey boy declared his desire to be a South Side guy beyond next season, his last one under team contract control.
One third of the way into 2016, the Toddfather hasn’t changed his tune.
“Not one bit,’’ he said Friday.
“That would be nice. I would love that. Without a doubt.’’
The Sox would no doubt like to have Frazier around for a while, too. While his batting average slipped to .217 in the Detroit Tigers’ 10-3 win Friday, he owns a team-high 38 RBI and is tied for the major league home run lead with 17. How unusual is that? Dick Allen and Bill Melton are the only Sox in history to lead the American League in homers.
Frazier hit 29 and 35 homers in 2014 and 2015 for the Cincinnati Reds and won the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game.
“I’ll take homers over singles any day of the week,’’ Frazier said. “That’s what I’m here to do. And it’s about being clutch. That’s what this game is about.’’
Frazier points to a batting average on balls in play below .200 which suggests his batting average luck will even out. He’s also striking out less and walking more than usual. He walked against Jordan Zimmerman (8-2, 2.58) and scored on Jose Abreu’s double Friday.
“Once things even out it will be a better season not only for me but the team,’’ he said.
What’s more, Frazier’s defense has been the key to a stabilized infield and his off-field leadership is invaluable, manager Robin Ventura and third base coach Joe McEwing say.
“He walks in with energy every day, in the dugout picking everybody up,’’ McEwing said. “He’s the consummate teammate. A true professional.’’
Frazier, 30, is earning $8.25 million this year and will be eligible for arbitration for another year before he’s eligible for free agency in 2018.
It may be early to talk about an extension, but all things considered, the Sox could spend in more foolish ways.
“It’s great to hear from any of our guys how much they enjoy it here and their interest in sticking around for a while,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said. “At this time, though, our focus is on the matter currently at hand – winning ballgames right now. The business side of things can wait until a more appropriate time.’’
As for the business of winning games, the Sox saw a two-game winning streak snapped, losing by more than four runs for the first time since April. Without Melky Cabrera (Family Emergency Leave) and several from the bullpen in need of a day off, theyplayed this one short-handed. Left-hander Carlos Rodon (2-5, 4.41 ERA) gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks over six innings and relievers Tommy Kahnle and Matt Purke, trying to pick up the slack for resting relievers, got pounded for a combined six runs.
The Sox (29-26) have lost 16 of the last 22 but Frazier knows he’s playing for a contender and enjoys coming to work each day.
“From the brass to the coaching staff, including “Chief” [bullpen coach Mark Salas] and ‘Cave’ [former coach and special assistant to major league staff Art Kusnyer] it’s a fun group to come in every day. [Bench coach] Rick Renteria, they do their homework. Every series they have something little you can use on the bases or playing defense that keeps me one step ahead. I walk by and they’re on their computers working their tails off. That kind of stuff makes you want to play harder, too.’’