Diamond making progress
FORT MYERS, FLA. - Lefthander Scott Diamond, a lock for the rotation before having a bone chip removed from his elbow in December, is getting close to facing batters.
Diamond has thrown a bullpen session every third day for around a week and is making steady progress. He will continue that program until around March 12, when Twins could have him pitch live batting practice. If that goes well, Diamond could finally get in some game action.
But it's unlikely that he will build up enough endurance to be part of the Opening Day rotation.Long-term comebacks
Righthander Rich Harden and lefthander Rafael Perez are both coming off shoulder surgery, Harden's more extensive than Perez's.
Both are slowly working their way back to the mound. They threw in the bullpen early in camp, and it was determined that they needed more time. Both are going through long-toss drills. Perez is at 90 feet, Harden at 150 feet.
Twins General Manager Terry Ryan indicated that Perez is working through some post-surgery discomfort. Harden needs to build strength and general flexibility. "He's feeling good," Ryan said, "so we'll take this in increments."
Harden added that one of his hurdles will be to get rid of all the bad mechanical habits he developed in recent years to compensate for his shoulder.Thielbar update
Lefthanders Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins, Caleb Thielbar and Andrew Albers combined to throw 42/3 scoreless innings. They all looked sharp, especially Thielbar, who was born in Northfield, lives in Randolph, attended South Dakota State and pitched for a while with the Saints.
Thielbar touched 91 miles per hour on the stadium radar gun and mixed in other pitches effectively. He pitched inside and was unpredictable.
"He used all his pitches,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He made quick work of it. He didn't screw around. He went right after the hitters, in and out, put the hitter on the defensive, and that is what it's all about."Etc.
• Something to watch as Gardenhire crafts his bench: Eduardo Escobar could be a third catcher. "My goal is to find the starters first, then find the bench," Gardenhire said.
• Righthander Cole De Vries has been named the starter Monday against St. Louis, stepping into the spot vacated when Samuel Deduno left to pitch in the World Baseball Classic.
• Outfielder Darin Mastroianni (left hamstring) is on track to return to action by the middle of next week. Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia (intercostal muscle) could resume baseball activities sometime next week.On Deck
The Twins head to Port Charlotte on Sunday to play the Rays. Righthander Mike Pelfrey is scheduled against David Price.
LA VELLE E. NEAL III