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Updated: July 21st, 2013 9:13pm
Warne: If Twins are going to demote Diamond, now is probably the time

Warne: If Twins are going to demote Diamond, now is probably the time

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by Brandon Warne
1500ESPN.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Another rough outing from Scott Diamond on Sunday against the Indians could have his rotation spot with the Minnesota Twins in jeopardy. Diamond took the loss, failing to get out of the fifth inning while allowing seven hits, six runs (five earned), three walks and fanning none.

Acting manager Terry Steinbach wouldn't/couldn't comment on if Diamond was likely to make his next scheduled start after the game (Gardenhire was ill and unavailable to the media), but the writing may be on the wall after this extended period of struggle for the Canadian left-hander.

Diamond's ERA peaked at 3.03 on May 7 after a 6-1 win over the Red Sox. In that outing he tossed seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball to run his season record to 3-2.

Since that point, Diamond has gone 2-7 with a 6.65 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, and a paltry 3.8 strikeouts per 9 innings. Even for someone who doesn't rack up strikeouts such as Diamond, that's a shockingly low figure.

Interestingly enough, Andrew Albers -- another Canadian left-hander for what it's worth -- started on Sunday for the Rochester Red Wings, tossing 5.1 innings of shutout ball while scattering five hits to run his season record to 10-4 (2.97 ERA). A swap of the two could make sense for everyone involved.

Albers isn't on the 40-man roster, but that's easy enough to remedy if the Twins decide to go that route. It's by no means a guarantee that Albers will be better than Diamond -- in fact, he may be Diamond-lite. Albers is actually a few months shy of being a full year older than Diamond.

But the Twins can't afford to mess around here; they need to see what's wrong with Diamond, and if it can be fixed.

Injury Updates

* Left fielder Josh Willingham (knee) will be fitted for an unloader knee brace on Tuesday, with hopes he'll start doing some straight line exercises in the near future per assistant general manager Rob Antony. Willingham remains on a mid-August timeline.

* Double-A starting pitcher Alex Meyer (shoulder) is on a throwing program and is on track to return to the mound in early August. Antony said Meyer would likely appear with the GCL Twins at the outset of his return.

* Outfielder Darin Mastroianni (foot) is "doing fine" according to Antony. The expectation will be that he'll start a rehab assignment within the next week. "He's not there quite yet," Antony said. "But he felt good today." Antony stated that they don't want to start his official rehab stint -- of up to 20 days -- until he's ready to go on a daily basis without needing days off.

"We don't want it interrupted by him needing a couple days off," Antony noted. "You want to maximize that when it's a position player, so that you make sure he's ready at the end of the 20 days, or before."

* Outfielder Wilkin Ramirez (concussion) has been feeling better, and there have been encouraging signs, but the Twins will continue to take it slow with him until there are no symptoms whatsoever.

Antony noted that if the Twins do end up needing a spot, Ramirez' condition and progress is such that a 60-day disabled list move could be considered. That is most pertinent should the club choose to make a move with Diamond, as most of the starting pitching options at Triple-A -- Albers or P.J. Walters, for instance -- are not on the 40-man roster.

* The club sent pitchers Vance Worley and Pedro Hernandez down to Fort Myers on rehab stints. "We'll have them work down there with Chad Jackson (minor league trainer and rehab coordinator)," Antony noted. "It doesn't make sense to have them hanging around Rochester if they can't pitch." Worley and Hernandez have been replaced on Triple-A Rochester's roster with Nick Blackburn and Edgar Ibarra.

Worley told the team that his arm felt tired before the All Star break, so he asked to skip a start and be ready to go out of the chute after the break, but while throwing during that time he said it still didn't feel right. Hernandez' injury is a bit less clear, but he's unable to pitch nonetheless per general manager Terry Ryan.

"I'm not sure what's going on with Hernandez, but we're going to back him off there," Ryan said. "I don't know what his problem is. He was fine, and now he isn't fine. We'll take it easy, and see if we can get him on the mound. It's unfortunate, because he was throwing pretty good. It's in his left elbow."

Who's Hot, Who's Not (Mid-July edition)

Here's a peek at who has been hot and cold this month for the Twins (stats through Saturday):

Who's Hot:

C Joe Mauer - .339/.420/.458 in 69 PA (.385 wOBA)
SP Mike Pelfrey - 2.55 ERA in 17.2 IP (3 starts)
RPs Casey Fien/Glen Perkins - 0 ER in 14 IP combined
RP Caleb Thielbar - 3.00 ERA, 12.0 K/9 in 6 appearances (6 IP)

Who's Not:

OF Oswaldo Arcia - .159/.196/.182 in 46 PA (.174 wOBA)
OF Clete Thomas - .158/.256/.158 in 43 PA (.204 wOBA)
C-OF Ryan Doumit - .263/.283/.351 in 60 PA (.270 wOBA)
RP Anthony Swarzak - 7.94 ERA in 4 appearances (5.2 IP)
RP Brian Duensing - 7.71 ERA in 8 appearances (7.0 IP)

Brandon Warne covers the Minnesota Twins for 1500ESPN.com. He has also contributed as a baseball analyst for Fangraphs.com and BaseballProspectus.com
Email Brandon | @Brandon_Warne
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