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Eric Peterson, Published January 22 2013

Diamond hopes to remain a rotation staple for Twins

Fargo - Scott Diamond wants to be like Mark Buerhle.

The Minnesota Twins left-handed pitcher hopes to pattern himself after Buerhle – the former longtime Chicago White Sox lefty who now pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Buerhle has pitched at least 200 innings in each of the past 12 seasons.

“If you can reach that 200-inning mark, it means everything else is running pretty successfully,” said the 24-year-old Diamond, who pitched 173 innings for the Twins last season. “That is my main focus as of right now.”

The Minnesota Twins Winter Caravan made its annual stop in Fargo. Twins closer Glen Perkins, team president Dave St. Peter, former Twins great Tony Oliva and team play-by-play broadcaster Cory Provus joined Diamond.

Diamond posted a 12-9 record with a 3.54 ERA in his first full season with the Twins. He led the team in victories and innings pitched.

“The ace title, the anchor, I really don’t consider myself in that role,” Diamond said. “I have always tried to be as consistent as possible. That is mainly what I am going to focus on.”

Diamond will likely be one of the few holdovers off last year’s starting rotation. The Twins made a number of moves this offseason in an attempt to upgrade their starting pitching.

Right-handed starters Vance Worley, Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia were among the key additions. The team also acquired two top pitching prospects in Alex Meyer and Trevor May.

“It’s a balancing act, but we feel pretty good about the work that’s been done to shore up the pitching staff for today, but also with the ability to acquire some high-end talent for tomorrow,” St. Peter said.

The Twins are coming off consecutive 90-plus loss seasons. Despite the back-to-back losing campaigns, St. Peter doesn’t think the team’s fans have grown apathetic.

“The most important thing is our fan base is passionate about the Twins,” St. Peter said. “They care.”

Perkins thinks the team has made offseason moves that will make the Twins better in 2013. The left-hander likes what general manager Terry Ryan has done to augment the starting rotation.

“They’re upgrades,” said Perkins, who had 16 saves and a 2.56 ERA last season. “As the season wore on last year, we tired out down in the bullpen. It was something that I know Terry made a priority to address.”

That is why it is critical for the Twins that their starters, like Diamond, pitch at least 200 innings.

Perkins is confident that Diamond will be able to build off last season.

“I think he has the aptitude and ability to adjust as we go along,” Perkins said.

Diamond had surgery in December to remove bone chips from his left elbow, but called it a “minor procedure.” He’s confident he will be ready for the start of the season.

“I’m not sure we want to put the pressure of being an ace on him, but we do think has the ability to win a lot of baseball games for us and log a lot of innings,” St. Peter said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.