FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Joe Crede donned a new uniform on Sunday and worked out at a Spring Training complex that was foreign to him.

But there was one familiar thing for Crede during his first official workout as a member of the Twins: the pitcher he faced in live batting practice -- Joe Nathan.

spring training
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Of the four Twins players facing Nathan in the session, Crede certainly had the most experience off the pitcher based on the many times he'd faced him as a member of the White Sox.

The good news for the third baseman is that after spending his entire career with the White Sox, Crede won't be facing the All-Star closer in games now that the two are teammates.

Crede officially switched sides of the AL Central's noted rivalry on Sunday after signing a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Twins. It's a deal that could total up to $7 million based on the number of games he plays.

"It takes a little bit to get used to,' Crede said of seeing the Twins logo on the front of his No. 24 jersey, the same number he donned with the Sox. "But it's a good change of scenery, and hopefully it's for the better."

The Twins unveiled their newest acquisition on Sunday in a short press conference, and following it, Crede received quite the rousing introduction to his new team from manager Ron Gardenhire.

"Welcome, Mr. Crede. Now that you've killed us as much as you have, now it's time for you to help us kill other people," Gardenhire said in reference to Crede's seven home runs and 17 RBIs in 11 games against the Twins last season. "And that's about all we need to say."

Although Crede is excited to be with the Twins, he knows it's going to take some time to adjust to the change. He spoke to White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko shortly after finishing the deal with Minnesota.

"I mentioned it is going to be kind of weird," Crede said of facing his former team 18 times this season. "But Konerko said, 'It's only going to be awkward when me and BA [Brian Anderson] are yelling at you from the dugout.'"

Twins general manager Bill Smith said Sunday that the Twins had interest in Crede since the offseason began, but the club's talks with Crede's agent, Scott Boras, truly began heating up just a few weeks ago.

Crede chose the Twins over the Giants, in large part due to the familiarity he already had with the American League Central. The chance to continue to be part of a winning ballclub was also a factor.

"This is a big signing. He is an impact guy and he can, if he's on the field, be a pretty good addition to this baseball team."
-- Manager Ron Gardenhire
on Joe Crede

"I really admired the way [the Twins] play, and I knew my style was going to fit in with this team," Crede said. "They've got a great group of guys here. They're going to put a competitive team on the field, and as a player, that's all you can ask for -- a chance to get to the postseason. And this team has got a very realistic shot at doing that."

On Friday night, the two sides were finally able to agree on a low-risk, high-reward contract. In addition to his $2.5 million base salary, Crede's contract features escalators based on plate appearances that push the value up in $500,000 increments. Those begin when he reaches 250 plate appearances and accumulate every 25 plate appearances until he reaches 475. He will then receive a $750,000 bonus when he reaches 515 and 540 plate appearances, which would top out the salary at $7 million.

The structure of the contract is to protect the Twins if Crede's injured. Although he passed thorough physicals with three different doctors in the Twin Cities on Friday, Smith acknowledged that there are still question marks about Crede's back.

"We were able to get all of his medical records, and we had our doctors look at them. There is concern," Smith said. "But it's a good deal for both sides. It provides us with the protection we need, and it provides him with the upside that he was looking for."

After playing in just 97 games last season and 47 games in 2007 due to lingering back problems, Crede underwent his second back surgery to repair a herniated disk this past October in Dallas. It was a similar procedure to the one he had done by a different doctor in Los Angeles back in June 2007, but Crede said his recovery this time around was much better.

"I was in L.A. for 10 days, kind of just struggling around the hotel," Crede said. "This time I was on a plane in two days. I could tell a huge difference."

Crede, a Missouri native, made several trips to Arizona over the offseason to get himself back into playing shape following the surgery. The third baseman said that he feels "pretty close" to 100 percent, though he's not able to run at full speed quite yet.

"But I'm not going to burn up the bases this season anyway," said Crede, who has stolen four bases in 798 career games. "As long as I can go out there and feel comfortable at the plate, on the field and running, I'm good."

Crede was able to take part in all of the drills on Sunday. While it was a good first workout for Crede, Gardenhire said that he'll monitor the third baseman over the next few weeks to make sure he's not pushed too quickly.

"He looks ready to go," Gardenhire said. "But we know what he's had in the past, and I know with backs there's probably always going to be good days and bad days. He supposedly has his fixed up pretty good. But I'll still be guarded in the things we do, especially through Spring Training."

Crede is currently on a program to help keep his back loose. He said that based on the program he's on, he's not concerned about playing on the turf in Minnesota.

The addition of Crede not only gives the Twins a right-handed power hitter with 125 career home runs, it also helps solidify an already strong defensive infield. Labeled by many in the league as a Gold Glove-caliber third baseman, Crede will join first baseman Justin Morneau, second baseman Alexi Casilla and shortstop Nick Punto to make up the club's everyday infield.

"That's a fun infield," Gardenhire said. "You've got your power guys on each corner, and you've got your two middle guys that can do a lot of different things."

Crede becomes the 19th different player to play third base for Minnesota since Corey Koskie left after the 2004 season, and the hope for the Twins is that he'll be the one to finally solidify the position.

Crede admitted that his first day with the new team included some nerves, although he said his family was more nervous than he. Crede's wife, Lisa, who is pregnant with their third child, and his two daughters, age 5 and 3, joined him in Fort Myers on Saturday night.

And while it will take some time for everyone to get adjusted to the change of scenery, Crede is looking forward to what the 2009 season will bring. And so are the Twins.

"This is a big signing," Gardenhire said. "He is an impact guy and he can, if he's on the field, be a pretty good addition to this baseball team."