Diamond in the Rough SeasonThe Twins certainly have had their starting-pitching woes this year, but one bright spot has come out of it: It has allowed Scott Diamond to be promoted and to shine. Scott came to the Twins from the Atlanta Braves organization in December of 2010 as part of a Rule V pick, meaning he wasn’t on the Braves’ 40-man roster and had been with the club more than four years. The Twins were then eligible to draft him after compensating the Braves, but had to keep him on their roster for the season. Taking him off would have allowed the Braves to reclaim him for half price.
Scott has been one of the few blessings bestowed on the Twins this season. He was born and raised in Toronto watching the Blue Jays play, and is the eighth Canadian-born player to play for the Twins. He is a hard worker, and like most of those who make it to the top level of the game, he has dedicated his life to being the best. I asked him about his typical day. He outlined it: “I show up to the park at 1 o’clock — unless it’s a start day. If it’s a start day, I’ll show up a little later to the park because I like to relax a little and keep my mind at ease rather than focus in too early. But the other four days, I always have something going on. I’ll show up, grab some lunch, and then I’m in the gym and getting myself prepared for my next start. After the gym I’m usually out on the field running, followed by a cool-down. Then it’s time to play catch and batting practice. There is always something going on. There are a lot of guys who were here before me, and they helped me devise a routine.” He kept talking about how close this team is getting, and the support they give each other.Many ballplayers enjoy the outdoors, but Scott Diamond is more of a city guy. He’s now been to many major league cities, so I asked him where he had his best times. “I always love going to Chicago; we have a good time there. It’s such a lively town and a lot of fun. I also love going to New York, and that’s where I spend my off-season now. But I’m looking forward to Toronto at the end of the year, and finally playing in front of my home crowd. That’s where I went as I was growing up. My parents shared in some season tickets for the Blue Jays.” Then he gazed happily as he reminisced: “One of the things I remember was on the concourse — there were vending machines to buy baseball cards. Some of my favorite cards were of the Blue Jays, especially Paul Molitor. And you know, he’s now the infield and roving coach in our minor leagues, and I’ve been able to talk to him!” Scott’s eyes lit up with excitement.
With all of the physical work Scott does, I asked him if he’s on a special diet. He replied, “This is the first year I’ve been trying to go as green as possible. I am really trying to watch what I eat. You can only work out and train so much. A lot of it has to do with what you eat; nutrition is a big factor. But during the season, being around a lot of guys who are also very conscious of what they eat really helps.”
I asked Scott if he ever “cheats” on his healthful diet. He laughed and said: “It’s good to cheat every once in a while…shake the body up a little. But when I do, I stick to dark chocolate; at least it’s rich in anti-oxidants.”
Scott loves to learn; in fact, he considers it his hobby. He reads about everything from nutrition to cosmology. After seven years of tests and studying while playing ball full-time, he has just earned his degree in systems engineering, and says he wants to keep learning, insisting he will always take it another step and will never stand still.Another guy who is in his first full year on the “big” club is Trevor Plouffe. He has seemed to find a home at third base, and has also found his home run stroke. I asked him what was the best food that he’s found on the road. Without hesitation he replied: “Sushi in Seattle! It’s a nice little place, right off of Pine Street. But I love eating in Kansas City and Chicago, too. I know some guys near Kansas City, so it’s always fun. ”
Then he told me that during the All Star break he went home to see his mother, Diane, and that they had a big engagement party for him and fiancée Olivia. Then he patted a teammate on the back, and trotted to batting practice.
One thing I’ve noticed from talking to the guys on this team: They’re not pointing fingers unless it’s crediting someone for a nice play. There are close to 20 players who are losing games through no fault of their own, and they can’t do anything about it except to keep playing their tails off. But I can see that as they suffer together, they grow closer and tighter as a group. They support each other like crazy…and when they do win, they celebrate together like crazy. We have the core of something special here, and if Terry Ryan can do some magic and fix our starting rotation by next year, this team that has seen the bottom together will fight their way to the top.