Diamond appeared to be on the fast track to the major leagues. Then, in spring training 2007, he experienced elbow soreness—and discovered that he had torn an elbow ligament.
He has struggled ever since, but he is working with the Cubs' minor league pitching coordinator, Mark Riggins, and is enjoying a great deal of success.
Back in January, Riggins was kind enough to provide me with an e-mail interview:
Diamond Notes: It is reported that when the Cubs claimed Thomas Diamond, you stressed the need for him to add variety to his velocity. How is he progressed with this?
Mark Riggins: Every pitcher that I see is evaluated and I try to determine what works best for that particular pitcher. In Thomas' case, he needed to have other pitches working in the strike zone to keep a hitter guessing besides his fastball.
Movement on his fastball was worked on also, and he had good success at the Cubs' winter instructional league with this adjustment. He carried the process of developing with him following the IL into the Mexican winter league and had continued success.
DN: Speaking of velocity, do you believe his velocity is back to where it was prior to March 20, 2007, when he underwent Tommy John surgery?
MR: Velocity after Tommy John surgery generally comes back fully after 1.5 to two years of pitching. Every pitcher is different with the surgery, but almost all get back to where they were. Velocity is an important tool, but what a pitcher does with his other pitches to compliment the velocity is the most important part.
DN: MLB.com reported that you were working with Diamond on a curve ball—how is that going?
MR: I had seen Thomas prior to him being drafted and at the AA level. At that time, he had a very good curve ball. The slider he had was not a true knockout pitch, so we worked on the curve to see where it may take him. It turned out to be a better second pitch for him and the more he threw it the better it got.
DN: I noticed Diamond was off to a very good start in Mexico; however, it appears he has been shut down. Is there a health issue?
MR: The Cubs sent Thomas to Mexico to work on his pitches and his arm strength since he had missed time from surgery. In the time period that he was there, we feel that he accomplished what needed to be done, and then it was decided for him to come home and give his arm a break before getting ready for spring training.
There was no health issue that determined that.
DN: I know Diamond was hopeful to receive an invite to spring training. Does it look like this could be a possibility?
MR: We will be announcing our non-roster invitees in the next couple of days. Keep checking cubs.com—once we announce them, they will be listed on the site and you will know if Thomas is one of them.
Diamond did receive an invite to spring training and pitched very well, but was sent to Iowa. As of this writing he is 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. He leads Iowa in strikeouts with 37.
I realize the big league club has six starters, but Diamond may not be far away.
GO CUB GO