Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Willingham set to return, Span to rest, Komatsu to lead off; Twins need Diamond to deliver

Posted by: Phil Miller under Twins game coverage Updated: May 8, 2012 - 6:03 PM

Josh Willingham is back in the lineup for the Twins tonight, but Denard Span is getting a break, so Erik Komatsu is slated to lead off against Angels righthander Dan Haren.

Span has started all 28 games, so this might be a standard rest, but it'll be worth seeing how he felt after colliding with the center-field wall to catch Howie Kendrick's drive in the sixth inning Monday.

Update: Span said he was a little shaken up on that play, woke up feeling a little sore this morning but felt OK this afternoon. He said he didn't ask for the day off, but said it's probably a good idea.

Asked why he's going with Komatsu in the leadoff spot, Manager Ron Gardenhire said, "He’s our hottest hitter. He got two hits last night, so I put him out there. ... Listen, that’s what the kid plays as. He’s a leadoff guy, he can run the bases, can steal some bases, slaps the ball around. That’s what he profiles as, that’s where we’re going to put him."

Alexi Casilla (sore shoulder) worked out with the team during batting practice and was feeling much better today, but he's not in the lineup.

Diamond delivery?

Looking for some kind of hope, the Twins turn to the recently promoted Scott Diamond on Tuesday night against the Angels.

Diamond, 25, went 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA in six starts for Class AAA Rochester before getting called up this weekend to replace Liam Hendriks. Diamond got seven starts for the Twins last year, and the lefthander went 1-5 with a 5.08 ERA.

“My curve ball’s a little more sharp right now,” Diamond said. “I’m using it a little more as an out pitch and even to get ahead later in the game, so it’s been working well.”

The Twins don’t need Diamond to be Cliff Lee. At this point, they’d be thrilled with someone who can begin churning out quality starts. In 28 games, the Twins have seen their starting pitcher handle this most basic task -- pitching at least six innings and hold opponents to three or fewer earned runs -- just seven times.

Three of Diamond’s seven big league starts last year were quality starts. And he’s been a better pitcher this year for Rochester than he was last year. His strikeout rate for the Red Wings has been similar (6.8 K/9 this year, compared to 6.6 last year), but his walks are down (1.8 BB/9 compared to 2.6 last year) and so is his WHIP (1.212 compared to 1.577).

ANGELS (13-17)

1. Mike Trout, CF
2. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Torii Hunter, RF
5. Mike Trumbo, DH
6. Howie Kendrick, 2B
7. Vernon Wells, LF
8. Erick Aybar, SS
9. Chris Iannetta, C

Starting pitcher: RH Dan Haren (1-2, 3.43 ERA)

TWINS (7-21)

1. Erik Komatsu, CF
2. Brian Dozier, SS
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Josh Willingham, LF
5. Ryan Doumit, DH
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Trevor Plouffe, RF
8. Drew Butera, C
9. Jamey Carroll, 2B

Starting pitcher: LH Scott Diamond (2012 MLB debut)

Target Field. First pitch: 7:10 p.m. TV: FSN. Twins Radio Network

Follow along on Twitter: @JoeCStrib

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