Minnesota Twins: For Scott Diamond It's All About Separating the Player, Student

Tom Schreier@tschreier3Correspondent IAugust 2, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 1: Scott Diamond #58 of the Minnesota Twins delivers a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning on August 1, 2012 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

For the Twins’ surprise ace this season, the key to his success has been separating Scott Diamond the pitcher from Scott Diamond the student.

Scott Diamond the pitcher is 9-5 with a 2.93 ERA in 16 starts a year after he went 1-5 with a 5.08 ERA in 7 starts.

Scott Diamond, the student, chose SUNY-Binghamton because of its engineering program and finished his degree last year.

“I definitely think they compliment each other,” says Diamond of his athletic and academic sides, “but a thing that I had to be able to learn was to separate the two because I was always that over-thinker and that guy that wanted to be calculating.”

A Guelph, Ontario native, Diamond became the first professional baseball player to come out of Binghamton when he was called up in July of last year.

His path was unique in that he went undrafted and that the Twins swiped him away from the Braves with the Rule 5 pick in 2010. In fact, he became the first Guelph native to start a major league game since 1883.

“It’s been a long journey,” he said at the time.

It’s one thing to be a flash-in-the-pan, a novelty that lasts only a couple starts. It’s entirely different to earn a full-time job in the big leagues.

“I remember talking to Andy (pitching coach Rick Anderson) a lot last year about this because I didn’t feel I was far off,” says Diamond, who went 4-1 in Triple-A Rochester (NY) before getting his call up on May 8 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

“I’m still not there,” he admits. “I talked to Andy a lot during the end of last year and during the offseason as to my approach and what to focus on as a pitcher.”

His focus became going deeper into innings. His mentor, veteran starter Carl Pavano, who told him to focus less on individual pitches or innings and more on the complete product.

“What made him successful was trying to simplify things,” says Diamond. “If you don’t throw hard normally, you’re more the academic guy, you’re more the over-thinker, so normally when that’s the case you have to simplify things.”

His focus is now on a long-term goal: to go deep into ballgames.

On July 27, Diamond threw a complete game shutout against the Indians (ironically, Cleveland was the first team he faced in the big leagues).

Manager Ron Gardenhire feels that Diamond’s mechanics have made a big difference in his performance.

“His mechanics are solid,” says the skipper, “he’s not screwing around with that anymore.

“Once you get that, now it’s about finding your pitches and getting them where you want to.”

Gardenhire also feels that the 146 innings Diamond has played in the majors is the paramount factor in his turnaround.

“It’s always a process in this league,” says Gardenhire.

“It’s just like hitters. Hitters have to get 1500-2000 at-bats to kind of figure things out in this league. Pitchers need to get innings and games under their belts.”

There is always a question of how many big league innings a pitcher will throw in his lifetime.

An undrafted guy rarely gets to throw an inning in the big leagues, and even big-time prospects have thrown significantly less innings than they were projected to due to injury.

By focusing on going deep into games, Diamond has started to pitch well in each individual inning. By getting his degree, Diamond has ensured that he has a future beyond baseball.

“By separating the baseball player from the academia, it just makes things just a little more easier to play,” he says, “and makes things a little more fun.”

In short, Scott Diamond the pitcher and Scott Diamond the student can agree on one thing:

It’s always good to think long-term.

All quotes were obtained first-hand.

Tom Schreier writes a weekly column for TheFanManifesto.com.

Follow him on Twitter @tschreier3.


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