Saturday, February 9, 2013

Three left-handers: Diamond, Duensing, Liriano

Scott Diamond: Will
he be the starter
or Opening Day?
LaVelle Neal tweeted Friday afternoon that Scott Diamond, who had elbow surgery in December to remove a bone chip, "has begun his throwing program but it's really iffy if he will be ready for Opening Day."

Obviously it would be ideal for him to make all 32 or 33 starts, but in the grand scheme of things it's more important for Diamond to be healthy when he takes the mound. If he isn't ready to pitch the opener on April 1, so be it.

Given Ron Gardenhire's preference for a veteran for the opener, I rather expect him to give the ball to Kevin Correia anyway. True, he's not close to being the best starter in the likely Twins rotation, but he is a veteran. And besides, whoever gets the ball on April 1 figures to be matched against Justin Verlander anyway. The Twins aren't particularly likely to win that one.


At the end of the 2012 season, Terry Ryan said (more than once) that Brian Duensing and Anthony Swarzak had been told to prepare this winter to compete for rotation jobs.

Since then, of course, the Twins have signed veterans Correia, Mike Pelfrey and Rich Harden and traded for Vance Worley. And, as noted earlier this week, Swarzak has broken a couple of ribs and won't be ready to throw when camp opens next week.

I never really took Swarzak's candidacy very seriously. Duensing is another matter.

Duensing is a theoretically viable candidate because he's had some success in the past (2009-10) as a starter, and because he's left-handed.

He's been much better as a reliever the past two years, largely because he's struggled to get right-handed hitters out. My theory last winter, which is still my notion, is that he needs a better change-up.

If that's the case, it should be pretty easy for the Twins to decide this spring if he's a realistic option for the rotation or if he should be in the bullpen. If he's got a good change going, he can start. If he doesn't, he'll be of greater use as a lefty-killer out of the 'pen.


Friday morning's post contained a reference to Francisco Liriano's on-again, off-again deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Friday afternoon it was reported, again, that the Liriano deal has been finalized.

Since this time the Pirates themselves have said it, I guess it can be believed.

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