June 17 (UPI) -- New York Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier admitted he was "pretty surprised" to learn he was returning to the minor leagues.
Frazier, 24, was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday to clear a spot for newly acquired slugger Edwin Encarnacion. The Yankees traded minor league pitcher Juan Then to the Seattle Mariners for Encarnacion, who leads the American League with 21 home runs.
"It's a tough pill to swallow, yeah," Frazier said. "It's never fun, especially with how much I felt like I've contributed to the team this year."
Frazier is hitting .283 with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs this season. The former first-round pick became a key piece of the Yankees' starting lineup when regulars Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton suffered injuries early in the season.
Stanton is expected to be activated from the injured list Tuesday. Judge recently began a rehabilitation stint for his oblique injury and could return later this week.
Frazier admitted he expected he'd be sent down in the coming days "not because of Encarnacion, but maybe because of Judge or Stanton."
"He played a big role on a winning team and that doesn't necessarily stop now, but this is where we're at with the roster situation," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "So obviously tough news to deliver, but hopefully he can make the most of it and continue to get better at his craft and know that he's going to play a role for us again."