BY CLAYTON RICHER – FAN FUEL BLOGGER
This interview comes on the heels of Guelph native Scott Diamond being named the Minnesota Twins Pitcher and Rookie of the Year. The canuck had a breakout season posting a 12-9 record with a 3.54 ERA as one of the few bright spots for the disappointing Twins.
The undrafted Diamond made his MLB debut in 2011 starting seven games and earning his first victory for the Twins. “My first major-league win came against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular field. I ended up throwing six innings and we won the game 7-6. My first strikeout came in my major league debut on July 18th, against Jack Hannahan.”
“The difference for me between 2011 and 2012 was my mentality. I was much more calm in 2012 and I think having the chance to have a couple starts in 2011 allowed me to feel more comfortable and relaxed out on the mound. I remained much more aggressive as well, focusing on getting outs rather than strikeouts. By simplifying things it made it much easier for me to just go out and pitch.”
Diamond was undrafted out of college and latched on with the Martinsville Mustangs of the Coastal Plains League in 2007. At this junction in his career the major leagues appeared almost out of the question but like a true Canadian, Diamond persevered.
“The draft in 2007 was an emotional time because I was really hoping to be taken and never was. At the time I was playing in a collegiate summer league, Coastal Plains League, for the Martinsville Mustangs. I was lucky enough to have some exposure during that summer and signed a free-agent contract with the Atlanta Braves through scouts, Lonnie Goldberg and Paul Faulk.”
Diamond entered professional baseball with a bur under his saddle and something to prove breezing to a 15-3 record between two stops in Rome and Myrtle Beach. Diamond continued through the minor league ranks before finally getting his opportunity on July 18th, 2011.
He has a repertoire that consists mainly of three pitches but Diamond credits his mechanics that keeps hitters off balance.
“I am definitely more of a control guy with repertoire consisting of a fastball, curveball and a changeup. I have the ability to alter some of my pitches to affect their trajectories. My fastball sits anywhere from 88-91, but it’s the movement and tilt that I create with my mechanics that allow me to be effective.”
Diamond had an opportunity to pitch on centre stage in 2009 as a member of Team Canada during the World Baseball Classic.
“The WBC in 2009 was my first Team Canada experience. Although we didn’t play up to par, it was my first taste of pitching at a major league level and the combination of that and being able to wear Canada across my chest made for an experience that I will always remember. In particular, I remember how vibrant and energetic the Rogers Centre was for our game against the U.S. and I still have yet to play in another game that matches its intensity.”
This was also the first time Diamond would meet fellow Canadian and future teammate Justin Morneau.
“The man is like my big brother. I had a chance to meet him during the 2009 WBC and then when I was taken in the rule five draft in 2010, he was the first person to text me. Ever since then he has always watched out for me and has been an unbelievable friend. He is really a stand-up guy.”
Diamond has achieved success at every level he has pitched but humbly realizes many people helped him along the way.
“My biggest baseball accomplishment to date has been being able to pitch in the major leagues. I have personal and career goals every year that I strive to meet, but being able to pitch on the ultimate stage will always be one of my biggest accomplishments.”
Diamond also spoke to the people that have helped him on his journey to wearing an MLB uniform.
“From Canada, I was lucky enough to have Lew Aubrey, Brian Pogue and Mel Melehes establish my fundamentals and then Dan Thompson took a chance on me for his elite team. I then went to college where I had some great coaching and then when I entered pro ball I had some amazing pitching coaches, Mike Alvarez, Marty Reed and Bobby Cuellar who helped polish my mechanics and took the time to work with me every day. And now I have a pitching coach, Rick Anderson that I have formed a great relationship with. The best thing about my career so far is that I haven’t had just one person influence me. I have been lucky enough to have several people; great people that have not only coached me along the way but have helped me grow as an individual as well.”
Diamond is cognizant of the Canadian players before him who blazed the trail for him and made it possible for a kid from Guelph to achieve his dream. It also makes it harder to nail down who is his inspiration.
“I read a statistic the other day that the amount of Canadian baseball players in the majors has doubled since 1992, which makes this question even more difficult. Fergie Jenkins is arguably the best Canadian player ever because of his induction into the Hall of Fame. However, for my generation I have to give credit to Larry Walker, Matt Stairs, Corey Koskie and Mike Johnson who paved the way for the next generation of Canadians, but also gave hope and inspiration to all the kids who dreamed of playing in the major leagues.”
Scott Diamond grew up a Blue Jays fan living an hour down Highway 401 and recalls visiting the SkyDome as a child.
“Growing up outside of Toronto I grew up a Jays fan and spent many summers taking in ball games at the old SkyDome. The pitchers I always watched were Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. Their work ethic and Pettitte’s pickoff move were always something I hoped to emulate.”
During his last start of the 2012 season, Diamond had his homecoming and a chance to suit up against his childhood team taking the bump against the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre.
“I was definitely nervous returning to Toronto but seeing all my friends and family showing their support made the experience very special. I wouldn’t be in this position without the support and help of a lot of people and getting to share the moment with some of them meant everything to me.”
“I spend my off seasons in New York City, training here and preparing for spring training. I begin a throwing program earlier than most, starting up in late November but I have found that it helps me prepare the most efficiently.”
As Diamond prepares for the upcoming season the Minnesota Twins are happy they found their Diamond in the rough even if it is a Canadian jewel.
Clayton Richer is a baseball writer for Baseball Hot Corner, his interviews and blogs can be found daily at www.baseballhotcorner.com as well you can also follow him on twitter MLBHotCorner
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