Yanks prospect Refsnyder impresses in debut
Girardi pleased with second baseman's at-bats, defense
BOSTON -- It is an exciting time for the young prospects in the Yankees' organization, according to Rob Refsnyder, who said that the team's top affiliates are stocked with players who now sense a realistic opportunity to contribute at the big league level.
Refsnyder is the latest member of that youth brigade to receive a chance, making his Major League debut on Saturday at Fenway Park. Rated as the Yankees' No. 5 prospect by MLB.com, Refsnyder went 0-for-3 in a 5-3 loss to the Red Sox, batting ninth and playing second base.
"It's the same game, but to be honest, I'd be fooling anybody to say I wasn't nervous and excited," Refsnyder said. "This is a cool opportunity, something I'll cherish for the rest of my life. This is one of my dreams, to play Major League Baseball, and it's coming true."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he planned to start Refsnyder at second base again Sunday, as the Red Sox are scheduled to pitch left-hander Wade Miley in the final game before the All-Star break.
Girardi said that he was pleased with Refsnyder's at-bats -- wearing uniform No. 64, he grounded into a double play, lined out to right field and popped out to first base -- as well as his defense, which included turning a double play and absorbing an eighth-inning takeout slide from Pablo Sandoval.
"He's a guy who works extremely hard," Girardi said. "He grinds out every at-bat and expects a lot from himself. The thing we have to focused on is that he doesn't put too much pressure on himself, understand he's going to play and just go play."
To accommodate Refsnyder, the Yankees optioned infielder Cole Figueroa to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and transferred outfielder Mason Williams to the 60-day disabled list.
Refsnyder, 24, was batting .290 (90-for-364) with 17 doubles, seven home runs, 37 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 81 games at Triple-A. He said that his parents, sister, fiancée and her parents were all at Fenway on Saturday, though he couldn't pick them out of the crowd.
"It just looked like a bunch of little dots out there," Refsnyder said. "Good experience. It's a lot louder than some of the Minor League venues I've been at."
After waiting all season for the call, Refsnyder missed the first effort to inform him of the news; his cell phone kicked to voice mail because Refsnyder and Triple-A teammate Aaron Judge were engrossed in the final half-hour of "The Fugitive," the 1993 film starring Harrison Ford.
"I didn't answer it because it was a pretty good movie," Refsnyder said. "I had no idea."
A converted outfielder, Refsnyder said that he got off to a shaky defensive start this season with the RailRiders, but had cleaned it up of late. He committed 13 errors at Triple-A, but only two had come since May 23, which he credited to the help of instructors Justin Tordi and Carlos Mendoza.
Refsnyder's first plays as a big leaguer showed no sign of hesitation; he whipped a strong throw to first base in the second, completing a 5-4-3 double play, and slickly charged Ryan Hanigan's run-scoring groundout in the third.
"After the double play, I think I kind of settled in," Refsnyder said. "It was nice. Chase [Headley] gave me a great feed right in the chest; kind of textbook from him. Chase made my life and job a lot easier for that one play, for sure."
It is unclear at this time what the Yankees plan to do with Stephen Drew, who has been serving as the starting second baseman and is signed to a deal that pays him $5 million this year. Girardi said that he is not ready to commit to Refsnyder as a starter and suggested that Refsnyder and Drew could share the position in a platoon.
"It's very possible. I think anything's possible here," Girardi said. "The thing about the game and the world we live in, if you produce, you're going to play."