The final bench spot competition shifted yesterday with the report that the Yankees have already scrapped plans to try Starlin Castro at third base. Via George King, Joe announced before yesterday's game that the Yankees would continue to use Castro as the backup shortstop but not at third because "we want to make sure he is comfortable at second." This is obviously great news for Rob Refsnyder, who has been impressive at the plate in the first week of ST games and handled his business at the hot corner in his few games there. That said, I'm not sure if this is a move that signifies the Yankees are sold on Refsnyder as Headley's backup at third. For once, I actually take the Yankees at face value when they give an explanation for a decision. I said a while back that I didn't like the idea of making Castro the backup third baseman in addition to backup shortstop and starter at second. He wasn't brought in to be a utility guy and there's no need to put too much on his plate when he's still adapting to second base and making the transition to a new team in a big market. Let him settle in there and work on improving his hitting. Joe and Castro both sound like they're on that same page and I'm glad the third base experiment has been aborted.
While I do think this decision is more about Castro than Refsnyder, there is no denying that Refsnyder becomes the favorite to take that last bench spot now. He's the only contender for the spot who's shown anything with the stick at the Major League level (obligatory SSS reference) and most of his primary competition is hurt and not playing in games (Kozma, Solano). It's too early to call anything, but I expect to see the Yankees give Refs more time at third in practices and games over the next few weeks. If he keeps making the plays he's supposed to make there, it's his backup third base job to lose.