Veteran outfielder provides boost with RBI single in win over Mariners
By Grace Raynor
NEW YORK -- The Yankees knew on Saturday that they would likely reinstate outfielder Carlos Beltran from the disabled list on Sunday, but the extra time for internal discussion didn't make the corresponding roster move any easier to decide upon. It wasn't until nearly 90 minutes before game time Sunday that manager Joe Girardi announced that Rob Refsnyder has been optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"The important thing is that you make the best decision at the time with the information that you have," Girardi said before Sunday's 2-1 win over the Mariners. "Guys are very close here and that's what's probably making this decision tough."
Refsnyder, the Yanks' No. 5 prospect by MLB.com, had started four consecutive games at second base over Stephen Drew, impressing Girardi with his growth and improved defense. Girardi indicated that the Yankees were pleased with the progress Refsnyder has made since Spring Training, but throughout the whole process, he made it clear that Refsnyder was made no promises.
"I wasn't expecting this, but I had a good experience. [I] got my feet wet, saw what Major League quality pitching, quality hitting, quality defense was kind of all about, so it was a good experience," Refsnyder said. "I'd be lying to say I wasn't anxious to get to this level to kind of see what the quality of baseball was [like].
"I felt comfortable. I never felt overwhelmed."
In the meeting where he was delivered the news, Refsnyder said the Yankees were complimentary of how he played, and that the general consensus was that Sunday's move was more of a logistical one, rather than one based on performance.
After the Yankees capped a series victory over the Mariners, Girardi shed some light on what went into the decision.
"We just felt that there were some little things that he could continue to work on. We brought him up to face the lefties to start," Girardi said. "And you look at Stephen Drew and what he's done in June, he had a pretty good month in June. You look at his OPS numbers. July, he hasn't a played a lot, the numbers are OK.
"We just felt that we're in first place and Stephen Drew has played a part in that and we play a lot of games in this ballpark and this ballpark is favorable to him. We're going to stay with him for right now."
Beltran, who batted sixth and played right field Sunday, went on the 15-day disabled list July 3 with a left oblique strain. He spent the All-Star break playing in Minor League rehab games in Tampa, where the Yankees' complex is located, and spent time both in the outfield and as the designated hitter over a stretch of three days.
In his return to action, he went 1-for-2 with an RBI single in the sixth to get the Yankees on the board.
"It allows us to set up our bullpen the way we want to. A big two-out hit. We had first and third and [Felix Hernandez] was able to strike out Brian McCann. Felix is always tough on us," Girardi said. "And then you get a big two-out hit from Carlos, and that's what we need from him."
"What timing, right? For me to come back from Single-A and face Felix Hernandez," Beltran quipped. "It is what it is ... I got a good pitch -- curveball on the middle of the plate, and I was able to stay with it and get the base hit to left field."
He said he got three at-bats each time and was hoping to be activated Friday, but realized that the decision was out of his control. The disabled list was something he had wanted to avoid.
"I was hoping that it wasn't going to be something that put me on the DL," Beltran said. "Before the MRI, they found a little tear there, they felt it was better for me to be there."
As for Refsnyder, he has plans to make improvements at Scranton and be back in the big leagues very soon.
"Oh, for sure -- just got to prepare and get better, but I definitely think I'll be back," he said. "The plan is to be a better second baseman, better hitter, better baserunner, everything like that."
Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.