Rob Refsnyder embracing big-league audition with Blue Jays

MLB insider Shi Davidi joins Hazel Mae to give an update on the injury to Troy Tulowitzki and talk about what Rob Refsnyder brings to the team.

TORONTO – When the Toronto Blue Jays first acquired Rob Refsnyder on July 23, they didn’t have room for him on their roster. With Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney handling second base, the Blue Jays were set at the big-league level, so they sent Refsnyder to triple-A to wait for an injury, a trade or the expansion of big-league rosters—whichever came first.

Less than a week later, Troy Tulowitzki rolled his ankle at first base and yet another Blue Jays injury accelerated Refsnyder’s timetable. By Saturday he was Toronto-bound, and after an hour and a half spent getting his work permit at the Canada-U.S. border, he arrived at Rogers Centre close to game time. A ninth-inning pinch-running appearance allowed the former Yankee to make his Blue Jays debut in front of a sellout crowd.

"An electric atmosphere," Refsnyder said. "I think it’s because of these players on the roster."

The latest addition to the roster brings some versatility to the Blue Jays, as he has started at least 15 MLB games at first base, second base and right field. He’s not viewed as a particularly strong defender at any one position, and he hit just .135 in 20 games for the Yankees before being designated for assignment, but he has always hit at the minor-league level, as evidenced by his .294/.374/.425 slash line in parts of four triple-A seasons.

With Tulowitzki sidelined due to ligament damage in his right ankle, it’s likely that the Blue Jays will have to get by without either of their starting middle infielders for a significant portion of the next month. While Tulowitzki and Devon Travis work their way back from their respective injuries, manager John Gibbons expects Ryan Goins to shift over to shortstop. Refsnyder should figure in prominently at second and Darwin Barney remains capable of filling in at either spot.

Refsnyder, a right-handed hitter like Barney, has experience all over the diamond, but he has played more games at second than anywhere else since being selected by New York in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. For a Blue Jays team in need of middle infield depth now and in the future, that’s a potential fit.

"I’ve been working hard with the coaching staff in Buffalo at second," Refsnyder said. "Right now I feel most comfortable at second base just because I’ve played there two or three games in a row."

The Blue Jays, who had tried to acquire the 26-year-old in the spring, liked him enough to trade first base prospect Ryan McBroom to the Yankees. He’s now in his last option year, meaning the Blue Jays won’t be able to send him to the minors in 2018 without first passing him through waivers. The next two months, then, represent a chance for Refsnyder and the Blue Jays to get to know each other a little better.

"You do the chat at first base,” Refsnyder said. “They seem like good guys, guys that put in the work. Guys I’ve really admired and watched from afar, so it’ll be nice getting to know them."


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