PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The Mets' catcher - or @Josh_Thole, as he is known on Twitter - says the 46 people he "follows" on the social-networking site are just for fun, you know, whoever seems "cool" to receive updates from.
At the top of that list is @mcuban, otherwise known as billionaire Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and everyone's favorite prospective buyer of the Mets. Thole laughs and maintains that the list is for entertainment purposes only.
Presumably, he's not looking for blow-by-blow details of the sales talks. But Thole has received a crash course in the power of tweeting. He just created an account in January - out of boredom, sitting on his couch - and has been the only Mets player to join after @carlosbeltran15.
Evidently, there was a void to fill. Thole said that within 30 seconds of signing up, he received a text from Mets media relations assistant Ethan Wilson asking if that Twitter handle was indeed him. A few minutes later came a direct message from an MLB official asking the same thing.
Identity theft is common on Twitter. Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey and Francisco Rodriguez all were impersonated on the site before the Mets moved in to clear up the confusion. As soon as Thole was verified, however, he watched his own followers list rapidly escalate, sort of like the National Debt Clock.
"I got a lot in the first 24 hours," Thole said. "It was like 2,000, 2,500, 3,000, 4,000."
A respectable surge - Thole currently stands at 5,094 - but not exactly @charliesheen, who set a Guinness record for surpassing one million followers in the first 24 hours and was up to 2,108,565 by Monday afternoon. Yes, @charliesheen is on Thole's list, as well, between WFAN radio personality @stevesomers and @ovi8, the username of the Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin.
As for fellow players, Thole lists @JonJayU (Cardinals outfielder) and @LoMoMarlins, Florida's Logan Morrison.
Thole likes reading other people's tweets - he thinks Morrison really has a knack for it - but he's not quite sure what to do with his own.
Maybe being the 24-year-old starting catcher for the Mets isn't entertaining enough on its own.
"I started doing the whole 'what was I doing all day' thing but I stopped that," Thole said. "I'm sure people liked it, but it was kind of too much for me."
So what does Thole tweet about? Well, one of his more recent efforts, from March 2, read, "Anybody know how to follow Charlie Sheen?"
Seems as though he might need a few more months to hit his stride, kind of like the Twitter version of extended spring workouts.
It's understandable that he's been cautious. The biggest statement he's made on the site is a show of support for the NFL players in their labor negotiations. Now that Thole is the Mets' representative for the MLBPA, it was a request from baseball's own union leaders. Otherwise, he's been a little tentative.
"I have no idea what I'm doing," Thole said. "As somebody explained it to me, it's like sending a text message to 5,000 people. If I say something wrong, or say something that shouldn't have come out, it could be a problem. I'm just going to keep it simple."
At the moment, none of his teammates appears willing to jump aboard. But David Wright suggested he could sign up during the season. The Mets have no official policy against their players using Twitter - despite the potential for a PR disaster - and Wright instantly would become one of the more popular athletes on the site.
"I actually think it is pretty cool," Wright said. "I don't know that people would be all that interested in what I do on a daily basis. Maybe it's something I'll consider.''