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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Before taking some cuts Friday, Clint Frazier took a cut.
Frazier's flowing locks of red hair are gone, replaced by a short, curly look after a barber visited the Yankees spring training clubhouse at around 7:15 a.m. The touted prospect made the decision after meeting Thursday with manager Joe Girardi.
"I just felt like it had become somewhat of a focus at camp for him, becoming a distraction and I didn't want it to be anymore," Girardi said. "We have rules in place. In reality, when he was on the field, he met the criteria. I think he made a wise decision because he understands he wants the focus to be on how he plays not how he looked."
The Yankees have had rules since the early 1970s banning long hair and most facial hair, a policy put in place by owner George Steinbrenner.Frazier cut his hair after the Yankees acquired him from Cleveland on Aug. 1 in the Andrew Miller deal, then let it grow during the offseason.
"After thinking to myself and talking to a few people, I finally came to the agreement that it's just time to look like everyone else around here," Frazier said. "I like my hair but I love playing for this organization more."
Frazier is likely to start the season at Triple-A Scranton, where he struggled to a .228 average with three homers and seven RBIs in 25 games after the trade. He said his hair has not been this short since "probably seventh grade."
"If this is my biggest distraction this year, I'm in really good shape," Girardi said. "There's probably a lot of us that wish we had that hair."
Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, a Yankees special adviser, gave him the 22-year old outfielder a hug after checking out the new style.
"I think this is a great step in the right direction that he's doing," Jackson said. "I thought he was concerned about fitting in with the Yankees and the way we do things. It takes time for all of us to change sometimes."
"I don't know if I could remember back how I thought when I was 22, but I sure was a wild antelope in the woods, that's for sure," Jackson added. "To compare him with what I went through, he may be went through it for a couple of days. Phew, I went through some times for months. It was a tough road for me a long time. It took me a while. He's way ahead of me."
The hair policy remains in place seven years after Steinbrenner's death.
"I think it has value because of tradition," Girardi said. "It's a tradition by a man who meant so much to this organization. It needs to be respected by all of us."
Jackson said one of the greatest comments he ever heard was from former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who said "the pinstripes are heavy in New York."
"And I think that Clint understands that," Jackson said.
The Yankees will be donating the cut hair to an organization that makes wigs for children with cancer.
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