MINNEAPOLIS -- When Joe Nathan arrived at Target Field on Friday, he said he felt like he was walking into the wrong door when he went into the visitor clubhouse.
But Nathan was in the right place, as after eight years with the Twins, he's now the closer for the Rangers after signing a two-year deal worth $14.75 million during the offseason. Nathan, though, said he was happy to be back in Minnesota to see his former teammates and coaches.
"It's exciting," Nathan said. "I got a chance to go over and say hello to everybody. I miss these guys for sure. This place was very good to me for a long time so it's nice to be back, for sure."
Nathan established himself as one of the best closers in the game during his time with the Twins, posting a 2.16 ERA with a team-record 260 saves over seven seasons, as he missed all of 2010 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
He was acquired by the Twins in a trade that also brought left-hander Francisco Liriano from San Francisco, and Nathan said he'll always be grateful for the chance he had to serve as closer in Minnesota.
"They basically got my career to where I am now," said Nathan, who has a 9.00 ERA in four outings this year. "I have nothing but good thoughts when I think about Minnesota, when I think about this stadium, the dome and the fans here. A lot of people treated me and my family very well while we were here and I appreciate all of it."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire also was excited to see Nathan, especially because of all he accomplished on and off the field while with the Twins.
"He did it for us a long time, took the ball, gave us everything he had, great clubhouse guy, great presence in the community," Gardenhire said. "It was everything that we like to see out of a baseball player. He handled himself pretty well. Plus he was pretty good when he got the ball in the ninth."