Posted at 7:04 AM on May 11, 2006
by David Zingler
Twins catcher Joe Mauer surprised teammates and the coaching staff yesterday by showing up 15 minutes late for the team's charter flight from Dallas donning sunglasses and a black leather jacket with his hair slicked back and cigarette dangling from the corner of his lip. When asked about his new James Dean-like look, Mauer simply brushed off reporters and began to cough after inhaling a puff off his Marlboro Ultra Light.
"Joe has played it so straight his entire life, through high school and the minor leagues, he wants to add a little edge - gain a little "street cred" - to his image," a teammate, requesting anonymity, explained.
Some doubt the squeaky clean catcher can pull it off. For instance, during the team's on-flight poker game, which he participated in for the first time, Mauer was heard yelling "Gee wiz!" after losing a hand on Nick Punto's bluff.
However, a teammate did point out that, for the first time, the 23-year-old finished an entire bottle of beer during the flight. "I don't think he snuck off to the bathroom to dump any out either," that same teammate added.
Despite expressing disapproval, Mauer's mother, Teresa, remains mostly unconcerned, "Joey's just going through a little phase. He's still a good boy."