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Hughes misses flight to Minnesota, forces Mauer to play outfield

True story: Minnesota Twins franchise catcher Joe Mauer(notes) got his first career start in right field Thursday night because teammate Luke Hughes(notes) literally went to the wrong airport gate and missed his flight to Minneapolis.

"The mistakes people make," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Continuing his new role as the priciest utility player in the majors, Mauer played flawlessly in right, making three putouts in an 8-4 loss to the New York Yankees at Target Field. Still, the Twins would have preferred to use someone else out there.

Needing a healthy body, the Twins booked Hughes, who was playing for Triple-A Rochester, on a flight out of Lehigh Valley Airport in Allentown, Pa., on Thursday. He arrived at the airport ahead of time, but went to Gate 9B instead of the correct Gate 9A. Despite the gates being right next to each other, Hughes somehow missed the announcement of his flight.

Reporter Phil Mackey, who covers the Twins for ESPN radio in Minneapolis, speculated that Hughes' headphones were turned up too loud to hear any announcements.

"I obviously messed up there," said Hughes.

The Twins went to the trouble of booking a second flight for Hughes, but the airline which wasn't Qantas — that's a joke because Hughes is from Australia — wouldn't let him on. He didn't have the right credit card.

Hughes misses flight to Minnesota, forces Mauer to play outfieldHughes finally got his act together and reached Target Field too late to start, but in time to be a pinch hitter.

In keeping with the theme of his day, he struck out.

Most of us have missed a flight. It happens. But who isn't paranoid about having ready their boarding pass, ID, luggage, whatever, when flying these days? And imagine if you were traveling in a foreign country, as Hughes is. You'd take extra steps to make sure you were in the right place.

The Twins found themselves in a pinch because the usual right fielder, Jason Kubel(notes), was out of town attending a family matter. And because they have experienced an awful rash of injuries; Denard Span(notes), Matt Tolbert(notes) and Michael Cuddyer(notes) were all out.

Coming into Thursday's game, the Twins' starting outfield trio of Mauer, Rene Tosoni(notes) (in left) and Ben Revere(notes) combined for four home runs.

Minnesota simply had no other options — other than Hughes, who was busy doing his Tom Hanks in "The Terminal" impression.

Big BLS H/N: Hardball Talk

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