Yankees rookie second baseman Rob Refsnyder was sent back down to Triple-A on Sunday, marking the end of his first four-game run in the majors. The 24-year-old was called up to the Yankees on July 11 to start at second for the team’s last two games against the Red Sox before the All-Star break. He went 0-3 in his first game, but in the second he got his first career hit on a single and his first career home run on a two-run shot in the ninth that proved to be the decisive factor in the Yankees’ 8-6 win.
Refsnyder’s demotion was mostly a consequence of the limited space on the Yankees’ active roster. Right fielder Carlos Beltran was ready to be activated from the 15-day disabled list, and the team needed to clear a spot for him. Unfortunately for Refsnyder there were not many options: The man he started over in his four games — Stephen Drew — has been the main starter this season, and the team would not abandon him and make a full commitment to Refsnyder. Brendan Ryan, the other backup infielder, only appeared in his seventh game of the season Sunday because of various injuries, but his veteran experience and ability to play shortstop, second and third make him an invaluable utility player.
Despite going hitless in his last two games against the Seattle Mariners on Friday and Saturday, Refsnyder still had some good at-bats and played well in the field. He just is not fully ready to stay with the team.
“He’s a work in progress,” Manager Joe Girardi said, according to ESPN. “There is no doubt about it. He has made huge strides from what we saw in spring training at second. We feel he will continue to make them.”
Even with having to go back down to Triple-A, Refsnyder expressed optimism about his time with the team and the feeling that he will be back.
“I’ve got to prepare and get better, but I definitely think I’ll be back. … I never felt overwhelmed. I took a lot of positives out of it. I think I can compete here and help the team win,” Refsnyder said, according to the New York Post.
Drew has struggled offensively this season, hitting .181, but he has hit some big home runs for the team and has 12, which would be second in the league for second basemen if Drew qualified to be considered (he is two plate appearances short, but will qualify over the next few games). As a left-handed hitter, his swing works well with the Yankees’ short right field wall at Yankee Stadium.
However, Drew’s one-year, $5 million deal ends after this season, and it seems he will most likely not be resigned. If Refsnyder keeps improving, then he will probably be considered the front-runner for the job in 2016.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, on March 26, 1991, Refsnyder was adopted by Clint and Jane Refsnyder and taken to California. His older sister Elizabeth was also adopted from South Korea. He grew up playing baseball, basketball and football, but he chose to pursue baseball in college and played at Arizona.
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