As a Twin, For­mer Nat Or­tiz Ex­cels

The Washington Post Sunday - - High Schools -

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.

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