In what team officials are describing as a "mix-up that won't happen again," Twins outfielder Brian Dinkelman was mistakenly outrighted into outer space on Thursday afternoon to make way for catcher Joe Mauer.
"With all the tumult in our roster of late, you always worry that something like this is going to happen," said Twins GM Bill Smith. "And to be honest with you, I think everyone gets confused with the difference between optioning someone and outrighting someone. It's like stalagmites and stalactites, or whatever."
Dinkelman, who is out of options, was supposed to be placed on waivers and sent to Rochester if no claims were made by another team. Through a series of mistakes the team is terming "unavoidable and unfortunate," the young Twins outfielder is instead exploring the mystery and wonder of our solar system.
The problems began when the incorrect paperwork was filed with the league office, and Dinkelman was sent to the Twins spring training complex in Fort Myers. From there, things went from bad to worse for the Centralia, Illinois native.
"No one in Fort Myers was expecting him to be there, so they just put him in a cab to go back to the airport," said Smith. "Unfortunately, and I bet this happens all the time, he got into the wrong cab, which was on the way to Cape Canaveral."
NASA officials would not comment on the next series of events that led to Dinkelman, who is not listed as having any training as an astronaut, pilot, or driver of a commercial vehicle of 26,000 lbs or more, being the only person in an experimental spacecraft on a 30-year mission to the rings of Saturn. An investigation into the matter is ongoing.
"Obviously, I feel bad since he was making way for me," said Mauer, who is returning from a two-month absence this evening against San Diego. "On the other hand, rockets are neat. If I wouldn't have been a sports player, I would've liked to be an astronaut."
Longtime club observers say this is the biggest mishap by the team since New Prague hobby farmer Joe "Junior" Ortiz wandered into the Metrodome by accident and became the team's backup catcher in 1990 and 1991.