TAMPA, Fla. — The Yankees optioned Rob Refsnyder to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes- Barre on Sunday and reassigned him to minor-league camp.
The 25-year-old, a fan favorite the last couple of years because of his 14-homer season in the minors in 2014, wasn’t considered seriously for the backup third baseman job because he never played the position until this spring training.
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He batted .242 in 18 games and committed four errors. A bad hop hit Refsnyder in the face in each of his last two games (Friday and Saturday).
“Our feeling is we want him to play more at third,” Joe Girardi said. “For him to be valuable to us, we feel if he can do them both, it would be really valuable to us. It’s tough. We thought he made progress while he was here. We’re just asking him to make more.”
Refsnyder came up as an outfielder but played second base almost exclusively the past three seasons. Few opposing teams’ scouts consider him a good enough fielder to play a position in the big leagues.
Refsnyder’s demotion leaves Pete Kozma and Ronald Torreyes vying to be the backup third baseman.
After Nathan Eovaldi mostly cruised through five innings Sunday, things came apart as he failed to get out of the sixth, allowing four runs. Eovaldi, who had allowed no runs in two starts, gave up five runs (four earned) and seven hits in 5 1⁄3 innings in the Yankees’ 5-2 loss to the Twins. The righthander struck out five and walked two.
“I felt good up until the sixth inning,” Eovaldi said. “Had that leadoff walk [to Darin Mastroianni], which can’t happen in a 1-1 ballgame. But other than that, all my pitches felt really good.”
Eovaldi’s fastball hit 98 mph several times.
Reunion for three Twins
Three former Yankees were in the Twins’ lineup. Phil Hughes started and allowed one run and three hits in six innings, lowering his ERA to 2.76. Eduardo Nuñez started at third base and went 2-for-4. John Ryan Murphy, traded to the Twins for outfielder Aaron Hicks last November, caught Hughes and went 0-for-3.
“That’s a lineup that can hurt you,” Hughes said of the Yankees. “You don’t just want to cruise through spring training all the time . . . Top to bottom, there’s not an easy out in that lineup, so it was good to see that and work through that.”