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Rob Refsnyder’s defensive play looms large for Yankees

New York Yankees rightfielder Rob Refsnyder runs to

New York Yankees rightfielder Rob Refsnyder runs to the dugout after the top of the sixth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

At the time, it seemed like nifty defense. But by the time “New York, New York” started blaring through Yankee Stadium, it was clear that Rob Refsnyder’s sixth-inning grab meant a whole lot more.

“I think it was a big momentum swing,” Joe Girardi said. “That’s an outstanding play.”

The Rays had a runner on third with one out in a scoreless game when Evan Longoria hit a quick-sinking liner to rightfield that looked primed to fall in front of Refsnyder. Instead, the Yankees’ do-it-all rookie — who was an outfielder in college but has played the infield for the bulk of his professional career — careened forward, stretched out his glove hand and made the catch after a few stumbling steps. He then recovered to throw a strike to home plate to keep Logan Forsythe from tagging up and scoring. Forsythe did not tag up properly, reducing his chances even further.

“They don’t score in a situation like that and we score three the next inning — just an outstanding jump on the ball and then to get up and throw it, great,” Girardi said.

Added Refsnyder: “I was just trying to stay on my feet so I could get a throw off and yeah, I was fortunate enough to make it.”

Girardi praises farm system

Unsurprisingly, Girardi is very happy with how the farm system is developing young talent these days, and he took some time to heap praise on the people who essentially have given the Yankees a new identity.

“For us, in a sense, the major-league staff, it’s rewarding, but I think it’s more rewarding for the people that have put all the work in to get these kids to us,” he said. “Whether it’s [director of amateur scouting] Damon Oppenheimer who drafted these kids or our international scouts who have signed them, the development people, starting with [vice president of player development] Gary Denbo” or the minor-league teams.

“They have to feel pretty good, they should feel good, because they’ve done a good job with these kids and given us an opportunity to win.”


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