Twins pitchers Diamond, Swarzak pass latest rehab tests

Scott Diamond and Anthony Swarzak are on the road to recovery. Diamond will pitch in a Class A game Sunday.

Scott Diamond took another step toward a return to the Twins on Tuesday, but the real progress will be gauged Wednesday, Terry Ryan said.

“It’s not so much his pitching today, but how his arm feels tomorrow that matters,” the Twins general manager said. “If he has no problem, then we’ll get him ready for April 7.”

That’s when Diamond will pitch in a real game, albeit a Class A contest, for the first time since undergoing surgery in December to have bone chips removed from his elbow. Diamond threw 70 pitches in an intrasquad game among players in the Twins’ extended spring training camp Tuesday, striking out seven over five innings.

Reliever Anthony Swarzak, recovering from cracked ribs, followed by throwing 50 pitches over four innings, striking out five.

Diamond’s next outing comes Sunday in Bradenton, Fla., where he will start for the Fort Myers Miracle. If that’s another success, Diamond could rejoin the Twins in time to face the Mets on April 12 at Target Field.

Swarzak’s next step is uncertain, Ryan said, “but he’s close.”

In a pinch

Outfielder Wilkin Ramirez didn’t have to wait long to make his Twins debut on Monday. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire sent him up to pinch hit in the sixth inning with runners on first and second. And there were some butterflies.

“I feel it a little bit, and that was good,” Ramirez said. “I’m a human being. I’m going to go out there and give it my best.”

Ramirez had a good at-bat against Detroit lefthander Drew Smyly, who uncorked a wild pitch during the encounter that allowed the runners to advance to second and third. Ramirez got a fastball he liked and sent a grounder to short, but he couldn’t beat the throw and made the final out of the inning.

“The main thing is to win,” Ramirez said. “In any situation, if Gardy needs me, I’ll be ready.”

Ramirez made the team with a strong spring training, just when Gardenhire was looking for a potent bat off the bench.

“You have to take a chance and that was the opportunity,” Gardenhire said. “He had a great at-bat and he handled himself well.”

Ramirez, by the way, was originally signed by the Tigers out of the Dominican Republic in 2003 and once was ranked as high as their sixth-best prospect by Baseball America.

Slowly healing

Darin Mastroianni hasn’t played in a game since March 25, when he fouled a ball off his left foot and caused a significant bruise. Now that the regular season has started, Mastroianni said he’s been told that it will be a few more weeks before he’s 100 percent.

“The bone bruise is pretty bad,” he said. “It’s discomfort, not pain. Pain hinders me from running 100 percent; discomfort won’t. Discomfort is when I’m lying in my bed after the game with ice on my ankle because it is sore.”

Mastroianni went to the park during Tuesday’s off day for treatment, but said he’s available to play whenever Gardenhire needs him.

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