With Giancarlo Stanton suffering a Grade 1 hamstring strain, which manager Aaron Boone said had a recovery prognosis of three to four weeks, it was Frazier, and not Miguel Andujar, who got the call from the Yankees' alternate training site in Moosic, Pennsylvania, to play right field against the Braves.
Frazier started in place of Aaron Judge, who Boone said is day-to-day with "lower body tightness." Making his season debut, he went 3-for-4 with a solo home run in his first at-bat, a double and two runs scored.
"Tonight was fun," said Frazier, the cornerstone of a 2016 trade deadline deal with Cleveland for reliever Andrew Miller. "Felt good to get the first at-bat out of the way. I'm just glad that tonight I was able to start with a bang.
"Tonight was my first real game of 2020 and it felt good. It's not going to be easy every time I step up to the plate. Being in the alternate site for a few weeks, I wondered if I was going to get back. ... I'm just thrilled that I got to play tonight."
Boone added: "That's just a great night. Obviously, a home run out of the gate. Single, double, homer ... that's a pretty good return. And I'm not surprised. He's been in a great place all this year, in spring and summer camp, and the way he was doing down there the last 10 days or so. I'm excited to see him come up and have an impact."
Frazier, 25, addressed the media on a Zoom call before the game and pondered his role in pinstripes. He might have gotten an immediate response by belting a homer in his first at-bat of 2020.
Frazier also said he was out to prove that his repeated run-ins with Yankees' lore are now in the past. He made several questionable comments and decisions in his up-and-down career that, though Frazier remains one of the most popular Yankees, might have earned him criticism within the organization and jeopardized his playing time.
Boone and general manager Brian Cashman had what Frazier called a "lengthy" conversation with him after the Yankees optioned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Frazier was named to the 60-man roster for the team's COVID-19-shortened season but was optioned to the club's alternate site when rosters were reduced from 30 to 28 players.
"There were a lot of questions asked," Frazier said. "[We talked about things like] what is expected of me, what do I need to do to get back, stuff like that. And ultimately, where is my place on this team. Because it's a really good team and I feel like I'm ready. I think there's a lot of people that feel that way, too. But there's a lot of guys in front of me and it's been frustrating. It's hard to make the most of something if you're not given that chance, and I would like that chance."
In terms of what will happen if or when Stanton returns, Frazier acknowledged he does not have an answer.
"I'm still trying to figure it out," said Frazier, who hit .267 with 12 homers and a .806 OPS in 69 games with the Yankees last year. "I think I'm still trying to find my role because I'm human, and I look at a couple weeks from now whenever Stanton does come back and where that puts me, and I think that I at least have time between now and then to possibly establish a role, and I would hope that I make the most of it. All I'm asking for now is just a chance to go out there and try and do what I love to do, and make the most of it."