MINNEAPOLIS -- First, Joe Mauer returns to the Twins lineup for the first time on Friday. Then, sometime soon, Mauer will debut his newest at-bat song, which was written by his friend and local recording artist Antonio Richardson, who goes by A&R for entertainment purposes.

At-bat music is something that many players take very seriously. But Mauer's song is unique in that it was written specifically for him.

Richardson is a St. Paul native, like Mauer himself. The two met through mutual friends and it was during a New Year's party that Mauer hosted to ring in 2008 that they first began talking about at-bat music.

"One of my new singles was premiering at the party," Richardson said. "We just started talking about his at-bats songs and how he usually goes up to bat to songs by [rapper] T.I. And at that time he wasn't really feeling the energy from some of T.I.'s new stuff. So I told him that by the time he came back from Spring Training, I was going to have a song ready for him."

What Richardson created was "The Joe Mauer Theme Song," which played every time Mauer came to bat last season. The song contained references to Mauer's career accomplishments, his trademark sideburns and other facts about the hometown catcher.

"I was just going to make a song that he could go up to at-bat to," Richardson said. "Once I got the music for it, it really took a life of its own. Once I heard the beat, the words just come out of the air for me and it grew into 'The Joe Mauer Theme Song.'"

Mauer won his second American League batting title last season, and while it wasn't necessarily the song that helped him do that, the catcher asked Richardson to create a new version for the 2009 season.

"The new one that I made, it was more the beat that Joe likes," Richardson said. "He likes a lot of hard-hitting, really musical driven beats. That's what I gravitated toward with this one. I made it a little more personal to him. This time I mention his mom and dad in it and a couple of his friends. It really becomes another adaption to what he likes."

For Richardson, the opportunity to have his music showcased every time that Mauer comes to the plate is a unique blessing.

"It's crazy because that's never been done, especially for an unsigned hip-hop artist from St. Paul," Richardson said. "Last year's season opener, I'm sitting in the middle of the crowd and surrounded by all these people with Joe Mauer jerseys but nobody knows that I did this song that he's going up to bat to. People were asking, 'What is that song?' And I'm sitting there with a smile on my face."

Mauer isn't the only Twins player to have Richardson write an at-bat song for him. The hip-hop artist also created an at-bat song for Brendan Harris this year.

"Joe mentioned to me in the winter time that they listen to my stuff in the locker room," Richardson said. "Joe was playing Brendan some of my music and he heard the theme song. Brendan thought it would be cool for me to make him one, too. I just basically did the same thing and made it real personal to him."

Richardson is looking forward to Friday, not just to have his song played when Mauer comes up to the plate but also to see his friend back on the field. The two have talked from time to time over the past few months as Mauer has been dealing with a sore lower back that kept him off the field for the Twins' first 22 games of the season.

"The hardest thing for him has been to sit and watch his team playing without him," Richardson said. "He's a team player and he wants to be out there and helping his team. He's had to be patient, but at the same time I know he's eager to get out there. It will be fun to see him back with the club again."

Richardson's second theme song for Mauer hasn't even debuted at the Metrodome yet, but he said this won't be the last time he creates an at-bat song.

"It's been fun to go through avenues that have never been done before," Richardson said. "And Joe has already given me the green light that we can keep doing it every year as long as I'm willing to keep writing it."