Refsnyder lets instincts take over at third base

Second baseman hopes to become more versatile, valuable

Refsnyder lets instincts take over at third base

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- As he prepared to play third base for the first time as a professional, Rob Refsnyder hoped that he would be challenged quickly, preferably on a play that would allow his reflexes and instincts to take over.

The Phillies obliged, and Refsnyder slid to his right in the second inning of Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Phillies, stabbing Carlos Ruiz's hot grounder and starting a 5-4-3 double play. Refsnyder, ranked No. 9 among the Yankees' Top 30 Prospects by MLBPipeline.com, is a work in progress at the hot corner, but the Yankees saw enough Sunday to suggest this experiment is worth continuing.

"I felt good, comfortable," Refsnyder said. "My goal was to kind of be aggressive, try to make a lot of plays, do a lot of different things on both sides of the ball. I just want to be aggressive."

Top Prospects: Refsnyder, NYY

Refsnyder, who also singled, walked, stole two bases and scored a run on Sunday, said that he last played third base as a freshman at the University of Arizona. He spent the last week or so working with infield coach Joe Espada to prepare for this audition.

He got two chances Sunday, also fielding a routine Cesar Hernandez groundout in the third inning. The Yankees still view Refsnyder as a second baseman, but Refsnyder has made it clear that he is willing to do just about anything to make the Opening Day roster.

As such, the converted outfielder said that he is splitting his workout time evenly between second and third.

"When I went from right field to second base, I felt like I had 10, 20 things going on in my head at one time," Refsnyder said. "Now, it feels pretty natural. Not as natural as possible, but Joe helped me out, gave me a couple of things to focus on, and I feel good."

Sanchez in the mix for backup backstop 

There are no vacancies in the starting infield, with Starlin Castro looking sharp at second base and Chase Headley locked in at third base, and manager Joe Girardi said that whoever secures his final bench spot will have to be able to handle third base.

If Refsnyder is passable at third base, it would help his chances of going with the team to New York. If not, Girardi mentioned Donovan Solano, Ronald Torreyes and Jonathan Diaz as three of the choices in camp who have filled similar roles during their careers.

"I kind of understand my role going forward with this team," Refsnyder said. "Starlin is incredible; I'm learning a lot from him, and we've got Didi [Gregorius, at shortstop]. I'm just trying to do my job and help the team out as much as possible."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.