Caleb Frare has had an injury plagued career for the most part but he is looking to finish the season injury free in the bullpen for the second straight year.
He was drafted in the 2012 draft in 11th round by the Yankees. After playing in only ten games in the 2012 season, Frare had to undergo Tommy John surgery, and then was involved in a car accident and then had a quadricep tear, all of which caused him to miss 2013 and 2014 seasons. Fast forward to the 2016 season, Frare has missed some time between May and July due to an overuse injury but despite his injury-riddled past, he is moving forward and putting it behind him.
Frare’s most recent injury wasn’t anything career altering in his perspective so it did not alarm him. However, he knows that the way that he handles his injury is pivotal.
“I knew it wasn't anything that was going to be season-ending or career-ending or anything, like that’s just part of the game," Frare said. "It's the beast of the animal. It's something that every ball player has to go through; they're going to get hurt, they're going to get injured, they're going to miss time, it's how well you handle those times.”
Considering his experience in both the training room and the rehab programs, Frare, as one might expect, seems to be handing the time after his injury well but he is not where he needs to be as a pitcher currently. However, he is making strides to become the best that he can be.
“I feel good, I'm getting back into it,” Frare said. “I still haven't quite found the feel of my offspeed yet but the feel for my fastball is still there so that's definitely help keeping me through.”
According to Tampa Yankees Manager Pat Osborn, Frare has some expected rust, but overall Frare is making progress to where he was before his "overuse" injury.
“His first couple outings back he looked alright. There's some rust but that's expected,” Osborn said. “But he feels good, that's the main thing and I think he's only going to get stronger.”
He has looked more like himself in recent weeks since coming off of the disabled list, posting a 0.84 ERA over his last six appearances, which is more in line wit his spectacular 1.17 season ERA.
Aside from coming back from his overuse injury, Frare is also adjusting his new role too. In previous seasons Frare was a starting rotation pitcher but this season he has strictly been pitching from the bullpen, a role that he and the Yankees are very eager for him to have both now and in the future.
“His stuff plays better out of the bullpen, his fastball, slider and changeup are more effective out of the bullpen,” Osborn said. “I would be surprised to see him become a starter again. I think he's found his home and that's in the bullpen.”
Frare is also on board with how the Yankees and Osborn see in him as a reliever.
“I think they like me here in the bullpen," Frare said. "I've enjoyed it, I've really enjoyed having the ball in my hands late in the game and it's been fun to do. My arm action is meant for the bullpen and I recover really well from game to game, so they [the Yankees] can get me out there more often, so they believe my best spot is in the bullpen.”
Now that Frare has found his spot in the bullpen, as a reliever, he needs to improve on his pitch control and throw more strikes. According to Osborn, he believes the primary thing Frare, who has walked 21 in 38.1 innings, needs to work on is consistently throwing strikes.
Frare’s pitching package consists of a fastball that reaches low to mid-90’s, a changeup that is mid to low-80s, and a slider that is mid-80’s.
“His stuff is good, but when it's in and out of the strike zone like it has been hitters become more selective,” Osborn said. “He needs to attack, attack, attack, consistently throw strikes and I think his stuff will play out more than it already does.”
Frare also sees that he needs to work on his pitch control which is something that he has been working on this season.
“My offspeed command is getting better,” Frare said. “[The] feel for my slider, putting it in the zone more often and putting it in the dirt when I want to, that's been the big goal this year.”
As for Frare’s fastball, Osborn knows that his fastball command has improved from the beginning of the season but Osborn would also like to see a bit more improvement there too. Once Frare can gain better control over his pitches and move forward from injuries, Osborn believes that Frare has a lot of potential.
“I think he can be pretty dang good," Osborn said emphatically. "He's got good stuff. He's kind of funky and deceptive with his arm action and it's all going to depend on whether he throws the ball over the plate.”
Frare keeps working on mechanical issues this season along with his pitch command and he feels that once he is where he needs to be, he can consider this season a successful one.
“I feel like I can be a lot better. By no means am I tapped out at this level. The reason I’m still here is because they believe that I could get better. If I couldn’t then I would not be here anymore.” Frare concluded.