New York Yankees second baseman Stephen Drew fields a ball in the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, at Fenway Park, in Boston.
By Ryan hatch
Fans, both in the Bronx and online, licked their chops every time Drew came to bat, knowing it was more than likely he was going to strikeout, pop-up or…something not good, and punch himself out once again. And most of the time he would, and the jeers would rain, the caustic Tweets would filter in.
And often in that same breath or sentence, they’d call for his replacement: Triple-A prospect Rob Refsnyder.
Refsnyder, a fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft, had a cup of coffee with the club earlier this season, taking 12 bats and playing second base in place of Drew. (Refsnyder hits right-handed, while Drew swings lefty, so that was part of the switch.)
While Refsnyder proved he can hit big league pitching—he clocked a homer at Fenway Park—there’s rumblings about whether he can play second base at a high level. A converted outfielder, Refsnyder had over a dozen errors at second base at AAA this year.
Drew, meanwhile, has played dynamite defense all season and now, through Wednesday, has 17 home runs. He’s enjoyed his best week as a Yankee—9-for-20 (.450) and two home runs in his last six games.
As the final month of the season seemed to come out of nowhere, so did Drew, and the Yankees look smart for sticking by him.
“Kudos to them,” Drew said of the Yankees. “They know what they’ve got. Power numbers are there. It’s just kinda been a crazy year. It’s just one of those things, you keep working at it, and keep working at it, obviously until now. It’s been a good feeling this past week, and hopefully I can keep it goin the rest of the month.”
Drew started Sunday against Red Sox lefty Henry Owens, and while Refsnyder (and Brendan Ryan and Jose Pirela, maybe) will see a few at-bats and maybe even some starts the rest of the way, the position is clearly Drew’s now, and it probably should be.
“I have not said [Refsnyder’s] going to play this much or that much,” Girardi said Wednesday. “Stephen Drew is playing extremely well. Will I pick some spots to give him a day off here or there? Yeah, probably.
“We have a long stretch after this day off. We’ve got a tough schedule, 30 out of 31 days. But with the way he’s playing, he’s going to play.”
His teammates appear to have nothing but trust in him.
“He’s hit 17 home runs; that’s impacting a lot of games,” catcher Brian McCann said. “And he plays Gold Glove defense.”
Drew won’t win a Gold Glove this season, but the guy who the Yankees signed for $5 million before the season has the second-most home runs among second basemen and just vice-gripped second base for the next 30 games.
Refsnyder will be at best a role player.