Rays' Bortnick Utilizes Social Media
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — Minor league infielder Tyler Bortnick owes a thank you card to Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg.
Bortnick made a name for himself in spring training, when his over-the-top Facebook comments on getting a hit off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon in an exhibition led to some major league hazing.
Bortnick was summoned to big league camp for the morning stretch, forced to wear a jersey with his screen nickname WHAMMYYY on the back, then teased by several players, with now-retired Manny Ramirez asking him to sign a ball and Triple-A infielder Ray Olmedo shining his shoes and bringing him water.
"It was all in good fun," manager Joe Maddon said. "And he did a great job with how he reacted to the whole thing."
But now that the minor league season is underway, Bortnick is trying to make a name for himself with what he does on the field.
The 2009 16th-round pick out of Coastal Carolina was a New York Penn League all-star his first pro season.
Last year he won the team MVP award at low Class A Bowling Green, hitting .303/.408/.451 with 8 home runs, 45 RBIs and 39 steals, earning him a late-season promotion to high Class A Charlotte.
He opened this season back at Charlotte and through 15 games was hitting .276/.417/.345 with four doubles and eight RBIs.
"The Whammyyy, absolutely, he's put the bat on the ball real well so far this season," farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "He's a line-drive, gap-to-gap type hitter and a hustle player who's going to scrap his way to the big leagues."
Maddon applauded Bortnick's methods to get to camp, and then kept him around so he could play in an exhibition the next day—where he was introduced by the public-address announcer in Bradenton as Whammyyy Bortnick.
"It demonstrates the power of the social media," Maddon said. "He utilizes his notoriety on Facebook to get invited to big league camp. I actually admire his tenacity."
• Josh Arhart, who played six seasons in the Rays farm system, was hired as a part-time coach at Rookie-level Princeton. Arhart, 31, will assist Wuarnner Rincones with hitting instruction and work with the team's catchers.
• Two Rays will be the subject of promotions by the Triple-A Iowa Cubs: former I-Cub Sam Fuld will have a jersey T-shirt giveaway on May 24, and native Iowan Jeremy Hellickson a bobblehead, in his Hoover High jersey, on June 22.