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Prior to this season, the only thing that stood out about Scott Diamond was his sparkling last name. In his first big league stint with the Twins in 2011, Diamond went 1-5 with 5.08 ERA and he was among the first cuts in spring training this year. At that point, you had to wonder if we’d seen the last of him in Twins Territory. Instead, he’s become the team’s default ace.
Diamond shrugged off his disappointment immediately, going 4-1 with 2.60 ERA at Rochester and was recalled by the Twins on May 5. The shift to major league competition hasn’t slowed him down. After 18 starts, the lefthander is 10-5 with a 2.97 ERA. While he doesn’t light up the radar gun, Diamond has demonstrated impeccable control, walking just 18 in 121 1/3 innings.
There are some red flags that suggest this brilliant run may be a mirage. Diamond’s .272 batting average against is high and he was a .500 pitcher in the minor leagues (36-35). With the Twins well documented starting pitching issues however, he’s a lock to be in the rotation in 2013. Nobody thought that in March.
I caught up with the 26-year-old last week to discuss his breakout season.
DZ: Can you just talk about the season in general, how it’s gone for you personally?
DIAMOND: It’s, so far, been pretty successful, I can’t complain about a lot of things. It definitely helps when you are playing with a team like this. We have a lot of defense and strong assets on offense too. Doing my job has been a lot easier just because of how great this team has been..
DZ: Going back to spring training, you got cut pretty early. Did you think you’d be in this position after that happened?
DIAMOND: That was my goal as soon as I got cut. Coming into the season, I knew that there was a good chance that I would be cut just because I was a starter and we had five guys already set. In terms of lefties in the ‘pen - Duensing and Perkins, those are veteran guys with a lot of experience. So, I had a feeling I would be cut, but at the same time, my goal every year is to try to be with the big league team…as soon as I got cut, that was just added motivation.
DZ: You got up here a little bit last year, how much did that experience help you going into this year?
DIAMOND: I feel like last year really did help me get comfortable for this year. So, as soon as I came up in the beginning of May, I knew how the locker room was, I knew how Gardy and the coaches were and so, I was a lot more comfortable and confident coming in and wanting to contribute at a much earlier stage.
DZ: I did some reading about you and the theme was that you are not a flamethrower, but you are mechanically sound and understand the mental part of the game well. How much of pitching would you say is mental?
DIAMOND: You know - a lot of it - I try to cut out the mental side. A lot of preparation and work that goes in before your start, is mental, but at the same time, there is a physical component as well. When I am out there on the mound, I try to take my mental side out of it and more trust my instincts and read the situation. I have a lot of help with a lot of the pitchers in here on how to approach the game and handle it while I am on the mound. That’s really helped me stay calm on focused.
DZ: There aren’t a lot of real veteran, major league pitchers on this staff - Carl Pavano is injured right now - who do you guys talk to, how do you deal with that?
DIAMOND: We all talk amongst each other. I talk to Blackie (Nick Blackburn) a lot, I talk to Duensing a lot because those guys are starters and have faced a lot of guys in the League. I talk to Perkins about certain guys. Our stuff is different, but it’s always just good to get somebody else’s viewpoint on different subjects and different hitters because it gives you a different angle to look at.
DZ: The Olympics are going on right now…have you been able to watch much?
DIAMOND: Yeah, been following a lot of it actually, it seems to be the theme going on right now. If we are not watching video highlights of opposing pitchers or hitters, we have the Olympics on. Being Canadian, it’s definitely not our Games - we are more of a winter team, but I still have to be proud of our country for the medals we’ve put up so far.
DZ: What are you favorite events, what’s stood out for you so far?
DIAMOND: Watching the women’s soccer - that was huge - the Canada vs. USA game was really intense and fun to watch. But I am big fan - swimming is always interesting and the gymnastics. I am not so much into the track stuff, so I’d say more towards the pool and the arenas. Volleyball was a lot of fun too, that was pretty cool.
See more of David Zingler’s interviews with Twins players:
August 11: Darin Mastroianni
June 24: Ben Revere
June 19: Ryan Doumit
June 16: Brian Duensing
June 2: Brian Dozier
May 26: Josh Willingham
May 17: Denard Span
May 1: Jared Burton
April 28: Alex Burnett
April 21: Chris Parmelee
April 17: Sean Burroughs
April 13: Jeff Gray