David Robertson and Todd Frazier first became teammates with the White Sox in 2016. Then they were traded to New York together the following summer. Now the former Yankees are united again with Team USA, each hoping an Olympic run will lead to another shot in the majors.
“I think so,” Robertson, 36, said when asked if he hoped to parlay his Tokyo performance into an MLB return. “When I get back, I’ll definitely see what opportunities are out there and what teams are interested. If I get back in the league, I get back in the league. I’m definitely not done, that’s for sure.”
A 17th-round pick in 2006, Robertson spent two stints with the Yankees from 2008-2014 and 2017-2018. He won a World Series with New York in 2009 and replaced a retired Mariano Rivera as the team’s closer in 2014 before heading to Chicago.
Robertson last pitched in the majors with the Phillies in 2019, his season ending after just seven games due to Tommy John surgery. Robertson suffered a setback in 2020, prompting Philadelphia to decline and buy out his option that offseason.
After admittedly pushing himself too hard, too fast, Robertson finally feels like himself now. He’s not sure if he’s Mike Scioscia’s closer, but the former Angels and current Team USA manager likes what he’s seen from the 12-year veteran.
“His skill set is still major league,” Scioscia said. “If he wants to pitch in the major leagues, I think he will. He’s throwing the ball as well as he has in the last five years.”
Frazier, meanwhile, is with the national team following a brief stint with the Pirates this season. He managed just three hits in 13 games before being designated for assignment. Frazier chose free agency over a demotion to Triple-A.
A childhood Yankees fan from Toms River, New Jersey—you may have heard that he once won the Little League World Series and met Derek Jeter—Frazier began his big-league career with the Reds in 2011. He stayed in Cincinnati through the 2015 season before being traded to Chicago. Frazier played 66 games for the Yankees following the 2017 trade. He then spent time with the Mets and Rangers before signing with Pittsburgh.
Now 35, Frazier hit just four homers in 45 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He crushed 21 dingers in 2019, though, and Team USA is looking for the third baseman to provide some pop and leadership.
Frazier is hoping those skills could also lead to another job in The Show, preferably one that includes a playoff chase.
“I’m ready to go,” Frazier said, adding that he would be willing to take a bench role or fill in for an injured player. “I know my time’s numbered, don’t get me wrong. But I feel like I’ve got another year or two left to help a team and help younger players out.
“I still feel like I’ve got a lot of baseball left in me.”
Robertson and Frazier will get their first chance to shine in Tokyo when Team USA starts its Olympic slate with Israel on July 30 at Yokohama Stadium. They will then play Korea the following day. Those games will start at 6 a.m. Eastern Time.
While neither have been Olympians before, Robertson and Frazier do have experience on the international stage. A Rutgers product, Frazier won gold with the collegiate national team at the World University Championship in Havana, Cuba in 2006. Robertson, meanwhile, helped Team USA take home the top prize in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Now the duo is hoping that one more worldwide competition will add to their trophy cases—and their big league careers.
“I don’t know what to expect. This is something completely different than I’ve ever done,” said Robertson, adding that an Olympic gold medal would stack up well with his World Series ring. “It’s a new event, new team. Got the USA across our chess, so let’s go.”
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