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Updated: February 16th, 2013 1:18pm
Scott Diamond remains optimistic but knows he can't rush recovery

Scott Diamond remains optimistic but knows he can't rush recovery

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Scott Diamond admitted his throwing session did not go great Saturday, but the Minnesota Twins lefthander remains optimistic about the progress he has made in his recovery from December surgery to have a bone chip removed from his pitching elbow.

"I think myself and the trainers included are really happy with how everything is progressing," Diamond said Saturday after the Twins' first full-squad workout of spring training. "Right now it's just a point of trying to get the arm strength back up because I wasn't able to get on my throwing program that I usually do.

"Now it's just about building it up in spring training. Today was probably a little ... not as great I guess (with the ball coming) out of my hand. But (Friday) was a really good day, so right now it's just trying to get it as consistent as possible."

Diamond would be the logical candidate to start the Twins' season-opener on April 1 against Detroit but there is no guarantee he will be ready. A Rule V pick from Atlanta in 2010, Diamond was one of the few bright spots on the Twins' starting staff last season. He went 12-9 with a 3.54 earned-run average in 27 starts after being recalled from Triple-A Rochester.

Diamond wants to build off his success from last year but knows he has to be careful not to attempt to rush things. That can be especially difficult when one day the throwing session from flat ground goes well and the next the ball lacks the same zip on it. Diamond said he has to be "very" careful not to try to speed up his time table.

"Like today, (the ball) didn't come out the greatest," he said. "It was kind of dying a little bit at the end. I wanted to get up on a mound and just work through it, but right now is not the time to do it. There's a ton of temptation, at least on my part. I've always been kind of anxious and really just eager to get back on the mound, especially if this is kind of dragging a little bit.

"But I keep turning to the coaching staff and a lot of the players and the training staff as well and they just remind me that this is kind of, as clichéd as it is, it's a marathon not a sprint. So right now we're focusing on the entire season rather than trying to jam it in so we're ready within a month or so."

Diamond said that because things did not go as well as hoped Saturday, the trainers had him do some work with a medicine ball and other non-pitching related rehab. The plan is to have Diamond throw from 150 feet on Sunday and, if things go well, he could be throwing off a mound by the middle to the end of this coming week.

It's not to the point where Diamond is throwing on an everyday basis but he is hoping he can begin doing so in about two weeks. Diamond said his arm strength is at "like 80 percent" but the key now is being able to be consistent and have two good days of throwing in a row. "It's not there yet," he said.

Best case, Diamond thinks he can be "full firing it up" by the middle of March.

"At that point, then it's just about trying to build up the pitch count and get ready to compete and be able to go deep into games again," he said. "I think that's more of a feel for the coaching staff and where they feel like I am and kind of what I can bring to the table at that stage."

As for his hopes of starting on Opening Day, Diamond pointed to the fact there is still plenty of time. "Right now, that's still my goal to be ready for Opening Day," he said. "But we'll play it as it comes." 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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