Tired Mauer hitches ride on Rangers Express

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSENJCHRISTENSEN@STARTRIBUNE.COM
  • Updated: July 9, 2012 - 11:00 PM

Sunday night's marathon against the Rangers meant the Twins catcher had a quick turnaround for his fifth All-Star appearance.

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Joe Mauer enters the All-Star break with a .326 batting average, which is tied for fourth in the American League. He also has a league-leading .416 on-base percentage.

Photo: Carlos Osorio, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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KANSAS CITY, MO. -- After Sunday night's 13-inning loss at Texas, Twins catcher Joe Mauer had to hustle to Kansas City for Monday's All-Star festivities, so he hitched a ride on the Rangers Express.

The Rangers have eight All-Stars this year, so they chartered a jet and invited the Twins' lone All-Star to tag along for the ride.

"We rolled in about 3:30-4 [a.m.]," Mauer said. "It's funny how that works. You have the night game, and then a lightning delay, and then extra innings on top of it. It's good to be here, but definitely a little tired."

Mauer said he secured 20 tickets for family and friends. It's the biggest group since the family took a bus to Mauer's first All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, in 2006.

"Being so close to the Cities, they like to drive down every year and make a road trip [to Kansas City]," Mauer said. "So with the All-Star Game here, I'll definitely be well-represented."

This is Mauer's fifth All-Star Game, and his first as a reserve since 2006. He started the games in 2008, 2009 and 2010. In nine career All-Star plate appearances, he is 2-for-8 with a double and a walk.

It's uncertain how he'll be used this time. Rangers catcher Mike Napoli is starting and batting eighth. Mauer will be on the bench, along with Orioles catcher Matt Wieters.

Mauer is tied for fourth in the American League batting race at .326 and leads the league in on-base percentage at .416. Regardless of what role he plays, the St. Paul native plans to enjoy it.

"It's an honor," he said. "You're in a room with the best players in the world. I've been fortunate enough to come to a few of these games, and I'll keep coming as long as I'm invited. It never gets old."

Nathan returns

Another passenger on Mauer's flight was his former teammate, Joe Nathan.

This is Nathan's fifth All-Star Game, and his first with the Rangers. He went in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009 for the Twins before undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in 2010.

"They all have a special meaning, but I think this one means more just because it's coming back from this kind of surgery," Nathan said. "I think a lot of people said, 'Tommy John, 37, this might be it.'

"Not that I'm out to prove people wrong; I more wanted to prove things to myself that I could do it. But it's nice to let people know age doesn't matter."

Nathan is 1-2 with a 1.73 ERA and has converted 18 of 19 save chances in the first year of his two-year, $14.5 million deal.

"As long as I continue to feel good, there's no reason for me not to be back on the mound," he said. "I'm probably not going to touch a baseball [during Monday's workout]. Give my body a chance to recoup" for Tuesday, after he pitched 36 pitches Saturday and 16 Sunday.

Maloney needs surgery

Matt Maloney, who made the Twins Opening Day roster as a lefthanded reliever before being optioned to Class AAA Rochester, tweeted that he needs Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of the season.

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