Sunday morning, Rocco Baldelli inadvertently created a motto for the Minnesota Twins' 2021 season.

He uttered the phrase, "Ride Refsnyder."

To define his terms, "ride" means that the Twins, employers of baseball's most talented center fielder, will instead rely on a journeyman in center until he breaks down or Byron Buxton returns from injury.

And "Refsnyder" is the last name of the first name in Twins desperation.

Their starting and only center fielder for the next 10 to 20 days will be someone you might not have heard of until he was called up May 15 to replace injured backup center fielder Jake Cave.

Sunday, the Twins also placed Max Kepler, their right fielder and alternate center fielder, on the injured list. Superutility player Luis Arraez was already on the IL.

So with the Twins' first, second and third options in center unavailable, and even options they would rather not contemplate unavailable, Rob Refsnyder will get a chance to prove that he's like Lew Ford, but not too much like Lew Ford.

Ford was the former independent league player who filled in as an outfielder, and in center field whenever Torii Hunter was injured, in the mid-2000s, turning himself into a folk hero, unintentional comic and useful ballplayer on winning teams.

Over the next few weeks we'll find out whether Refsnyder is a good player, or just a good late-spring story.

Refsnyder began his pro career with a better pedigree. The Yankees chose him in the fifth round in the 2012 draft and he became a productive minor league hitter who ran into the wall (that is not a Buxton reference) in the majors.

Now Refsnyder holds his hands higher and has developed a timing mechanism with his left foot that has allowed him to swing with more quickness and authority.

He is hitting .348 with a .935 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage). Sunday, he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and four runners left on base in a game in which the Twins were desperate for one big hit in their 6-3 loss to Kansas City at Target Field. But he made a diving catch in left-center.

Refsnyder and Miguel Sano batted fifth and seventh in the lineup and went a combined 0-for-8 with five strikeouts and a double play grounder. If all of the Twins' regulars were healthy, Sano would have been pushed to the bottom of the lineup and Refsnyder would have waited on the bench for a chance to pinch-hit.

Sunday, the Twins' outfield consisted of Trevor Larnach in left, Refsnyder in center and Alex Kirilloff in right.

"We're going to let those guys play and see what they can do," Baldelli said.

Which of those players is not like the others?

Kirilloff has been the Twins' best pure hitting prospect for years. Larnach has been a big part of their plans, possibly as a replacement for Nelson Cruz, if and when he retires. Refsnyder has spent his big-league career playing his way back to the minors.

He is 30 years old and with his fifth big-league team. He entered this season with a paltry .602 OPS. He had become the guy you called up when you didn't have any of your guys to call up.

But as Ford proved, baseball is an odd sport, even when you're not ironing your shirt while wearing it. Some players mature late, and sometimes a mechanical or mental adjustment can lead to surprising success.

Like Ford, Refsnyder is a solidly built righthanded hitter with bat speed. Unlike Ford, he has played infield in the big leagues.

What Refsnyder is doing might not be sustainable, and it might not need to be. What the Twins need is a week or three of capable play and the occasional clutch hit. They need a life raft, not a yacht.

If Refsnyder does sustain this level of excellence, then the Twins will have found a new Marwin Gonzalez, or a new Lew Ford.

If Refsnyder fails, then even the return of Buxton may not be enough to save this Twins season.