As a Twin, Former Nat Ortiz Excels
Ramon Ortiz might have re-signed with the Washington Nationals this winter if the organization could have made two things happen: Prove they were ready to be a winner in 2007, and move to the American League. The chances of either, of course, were nil.
And so Ortiz, the Nationals’ winningest pitcher last year, is plying his trade for the Minnesota Twins — fulfilling his wishes of playing for a potential winner, and not having to bat. Through three starts, he is 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA, and he says he could not be happier.
“I felt good in Washington,” said Ortiz, who was 11-16 with a 5.57 ERA in his only D.C. season, “but I feel great here.”
Ortiz has been effusive in his praise of Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson. “Sometimes you pitch, and you do something wrong,” he said. “[Anderson] sees what I do wrong, and he teaches me the right way.”
Asked about the implication that Nationals pitching coach Randy St. Claire was not as attentive, Ortiz backed away. “No, St. Claire is good,” he said. “But every pitching coach is different, and [Anderson] just sees everything.”
Ortiz said the Nationals made a competitive offer to keep him, but had no chance. He signed a one-year deal with the Twins for $3.1 million.
“I like to win,” Ortiz said. “I don’t care if I could be the number one starter in Washington. I’d rather be number five here and win.” K FAMILIAR DIFFICULTIES: Why does the greatest closer in history, Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, all of a sudden turn into Jorge Julio when he gets anywhere near the Boston Red Sox, as he did again Friday night in blowing a save at Fenway Park?
The Yankees, of course, would say it’s merely coincidence that Rivera has converted only 66.7 percent of his saves (14 of 21 with an ERA of 2.87) against the Red Sox since the start of the 2004 season — including playoffs — vs. a save percentage of 93 percent (120 out of 129 with an ERA of 1.62) against the other 28 teams.
However, familiarity undoubtedly has something to do with it. Rivera has pitched 372⁄ innings against Boston in
3 that span, nearly nine innings more than he has pitched against any other team.