MINNEAPOLIS -- Todd Frazier had been talking trash for 3 1/2 weeks, which had Robin Ventura ready to handle the barrage of garbage he knew was headed his direction on Friday night.
Born with a gift for the gab, Frazier couldn’t even wait until he reached the dugout to start digging in on Ventura after he established a new franchise record for home runs by a third baseman with his 35th, a game-tying, two-run shot to center in the fourth inning.
Just as he rounded third base, Frazier stared into the White Sox dugout in search of Ventura. Seconds later, he approached Ventura, who was seated on the back bench, and extended his hand. But to the delight of White Sox players, a stone-faced Ventura stared through Frazier’s soul without once acknowledging his presence.
“Everybody wanted me to freeze him out,” Ventura said. “So I froze him out as long as I could.
“He’s been playing with it for quite a while. Everybody wanted me to freeze him. I think I did my part.”
Depending on how you look at it, Frazier moved past Ventura with his 34th homer on Thursday and actually surpassed Bill Melton’s record on Friday.
Then the starting third baseman, Ventura blasted 34 homers in 1996. But only 32 of those came with Ventura playing the hot corner. He hit one while playing first base and one as a pinch-hitter. Melton slugged 33 homers in 1971, all of which came with him at third.
Of Frazier’s 35, 34 have come at third base with one coming while he played first.
But none of that mattered to Frazier, who knew as early as Aug. 9 he had a good shot at setting the record. That’s the day he crushed his 31st homer and Frazier has been talking trash ever since -- even as he endured a 14-game homerless streak.
Frazier applauded Ventura’s commitment to the gag. When Frazier hit his 33rd homer on Tuesday, Ventura joked and told him he had a nice season, but it was over.
“I guess there was disappointment,” Frazier said. “He told me he was going to take me out the other day and not let me play for the rest of the season. There was going to be some trouble there, but it was all in fun. Couldn’t have happened to a better guy. It was cool, one of my goals halfway through the year. It was my goal, that I wanted to get him.
“I was trying to find him (as I rounded third), but I think he was hiding in there. He played it off well. It made for a good little story.
“It was great. It was perfect. They said it was on TV too as well. A good little memory, and hopefully we can still be friends.”
As he began his postgame media session, Ventura joked it was tough to lose the record. He continued his ribbing after Frazier returned to his stall in the visiting clubhouse, noting that when he played the fences were 347 feet.
“It’s a sad day around here when one of those goes down,” Ventura said. “You’re proud of him. You like to see him break a record, but I don’t like it to be mine. We had some fun with it and you’re happy for him.”