Rob Refsnyder has arrived.
Not as a major-leaguer. That’s still up in the air.
No, the Yankees rookie has arrived as an internet sensation. How else to explain that his Twitter account was hacked Monday?
“Weird, right?” Refsnyder told reporters Monday night before going 0-for-2 in the Yankees’ 5-2 victory over the Angels at Yankee Stadium.
Refsnyder, who started his third straight game at first base in place of the injured Mark Teixeira, would prefer to be known for his baseball-playing prowess than his social media profile. That hasn’t happened yet.
The good news is Refsnyder is getting somewhat of a chance, although Joe Girardi did bat him ninth and then sent up Aaron Hicks to bat for him in the eighth inning of a 2-2 game.
Plus, the anonymous hacker returned control of Refsnyder’s account after a few mischievous tweets. No real harm was done. Refsnyder even called the perpetrator “a nice hacker.”
Refsnyder joined the ranks of celebrities whose Twitter accounts have been hacked recently. Pop star Katy Perry, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are among those whose accounts were compromised after a recent data breach.
Refsnyder, with 13,400 followers, can’t compete with Perry (89.3 million) in terms of Twitter fans. But for the last few years, he has been such a social-media sensation among a segment of Yankees fans, you’d think he was the fifth Beatle.
The way social media is today, minor-leaguers can become more famous than major-leaguers. Refsnyder, a fifth-round pick in 2012, burst onto Yankees fans’ radar when he hit a combined .318 with 14 homers and 63 RBIs as a second baseman at two levels in 2014.
But the Yankees have never seemed as excited as their fans about Refsnyder. They didn’t give him a real shot to supplant the woeful Stephen Drew at second last season. Refsnyder started in the AL wild-card game, but his path to the majors was blocked when the Yankees acquired Starlin Castro from the Cubs.
Refsnyder’s defense has lagged behind his hitting, so the club has tried to turn him into a super utilityman by playing him in the outfield and at third base. The latter experiment took a break after he was hit in the face by ground balls in consecutive games in spring training.
Finally, Refsnyder is getting a chance at age 25 for regular hacks at first, a position he had never played except perhaps in Wiffle ball until Teixeira got hurt on Friday in Baltimore.
Refsnyder has handled everything thrown his way at first thus far. That’s something Alex Rodriguez couldn’t do — catch balls thrown to him — when he tried the position in spring training last year. Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran want no part of it. Refsnyder has no choice.
“He’s worked very hard at it,” Girardi said. “So far, so good. Obviously, there’s a lot of plays he hasn’t experienced. But a lot of times, the only way you’re going to experience them is to get out there. So far, he looks fine.”
Where Refsnyder has looked better is in the batter’s box. Last year, he hit .302 with two home runs in 16 regular-season games with the Yankees. After Monday night, his average is .227, but he has four doubles and four RBIs in 22 at-bats.
At least Refsnyder has it better than Nick Swisher, who is stranded at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after signing with the Yankees in April. It appears it will take injuries to close to the entire roster for Swisher to return to the Bronx. At least he has 1.7 million Twitter followers and a $15- million salary.