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Twins’ Mauer named American League MVP

NEW YORK — Joe Mauer sat behind a table on a podium in a conference room at the Metrodome when Justin Morneau shouted out the last question of the day.

“Are you finally going to buy dinner now?” Morneau said to his teammate from the audience, one MVP to another.

Mauer became only the second catcher in 33 years to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award, finishing first in a near-unanimous vote Monday.

The Minnesota Twins star received 27 of 28 first-place votes and 387 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Yankees teammates Mark Teixeira (225 points) and Derek Jeter (193) followed. Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera drew the other first-place vote and was fourth with 171 points, one point ahead of the Angels’ Kendry Morales.

Mauer became the second Twins player to win in four years, following Morneau in 2006. Morneau gave Mauer a bottle of champagne.

“Hopefully we can pop that open here a little later,” Mauer said.

Born in St. Paul, the 26-year-old can leave the Twins and become a free agent after the 2010 season, when he is to make $12.5 million. Minnesota is expected to try to sign him to a new deal.

“I’ve always said it will happen when it needs to happen and I truly believe that,” he said. “I’m not the kind of guy that, you know, says by this date we need to have something done.”

He enjoys playing in front of his family and friends and his preference is to stay with the Twins.

“Can we win here? Yes. Definitely. I think so,” he said. “And that’s ultimately what I would like to do.”