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Continued: Anderson asked to work magic again

Anderson was able to watch Mets pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre as he worked with New York pitchers. Anderson noticed they had similar personalities and took that approach through the Twins organization.

"He was low-key like I was," Anderson said of Stottlemyre. "He didn't push anything on anyone, and it was just the way he approached people. He approached me the same way he approached Dwight Gooden. I respected him for what he did. We worked with what we had and didn't try to change things."

By 1992, Anderson was coaching at Class A Kenosha when a prospect was struggling with his changeup. Anderson messed around with a few grips while playing catch and found one he liked.

"Try this," Anderson said -- to Brad Radke.

By moving his index and middle fingers over on the ball, Radke settled on a changeup that helped him pitch 12 years in the majors with the Twins before retiring in December.

Anderson continued to move up the Twins' ladder. He spent seven seasons at Class AAA Salt Lake before being named Twins pitching coach before the 2002 season, rejoining Gardenhire, his old minor league roommate who was taking over for the retiring Tom Kelly as manager.

Numbers tell story

The Twins had the second-best team ERA in the AL in 2006, were fifth in 2005 and first in 2004. The staff has led the AL in fewest walks the past three seasons.

The individual success stories are as impressive: The erratic LaTroy Hawkins had his best two seasons as a setup man under Anderson. Radke was encouraged to pitch inside more to keep hitters off the changeup away. Santana has won two Cy Young Awards. Anderson had Dennys Reyes throw a little nearly every day last season to help him maintain his control. Joe Nathan has become one of the best closers in the game, anchoring a bullpen that had a major league-best 2.91 ERA last season.

"When I had some issues with my mechanics, the other guy [former pitching coach Dick Such] wasn't able to tell me anything," reliever Juan Rincon said. "Andy picked it up right there. He's very good. And I can tell how he's helped the other guys. The younger guys especially. If I'm tipping [my pitches] or jumping out [on my delivery], he's able to tell me right away."

All of which is why the Twins like their chances to turn Ortiz and Ponson around.

Ortiz, 33, was 11-16 with Washington last season with a 5.57 ERA. Opponents hit .297 against him. Anderson remembers Ortiz having a good slider and wonders if he just needs to come up with an off-speed pitch.

"I think you've to have him slow it down a little bit and work the change up in to keep the hitters off a little more," Anderson said.

Anderson has spoken on the phone with Ponson, who was 4-5 with a 6.25 ERA in stints with the Cardinals and Yankees last season. Anderson wants to work on Ponson's confidence and hopefully thrive off his new teammates.

The pitching staff has been known to go on training runs out of the ballpark and through local supermarkets for fun. Will Ponson join in?

"I'm anxious for Monday to come so I can sit down and talk to him a little bit and find out what he's all about," Anderson said.

The Twins do have a few highly regarded prospects to try out on the mound, but all eyes will be on Anderson and whether he can get Ortiz and Ponson to pitch as if it's 2003. Ortiz won 16 games with the Angels that summer, and Ponson won 17 games with Baltimore and San Francisco.

"I just hope it all works out," Anderson said. "If Ponson and Ortiz come in and do a good job, that means we're having a good year."

  • TODAY

    Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Fort Myers, Fla.

    FRIDAY

    Position players report and the full team works out for the first time.

    FEB. 28

    Twins' first spring game: 6:05 p.m. vs. Boston Red Sox.

    APRIL 2

    Twins open the 2007 season at home vs. Baltimore (6:05 p.m.)

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