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Database date and string question

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I have a field in my datagrid:

<asp:BoundColumn DataField="alrTime" HeaderText="Last Checked"
DataFormatString="{0:MM-dd-yyyy HH:mm}"/>

CAST(max(ta.alertid) as date) as alertid

however, when it prints it just puts

MM-dd-yyyy HH:mm

This is because the max() function (mysql) makes the column a string
and evidently nothing is going to change that. Is there a way to get
to the string before it is rendered in the datagrid so that I can
parse it out manually? Thanks
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