8/3 Diamond in the rough
Thomas Diamond will get another start but the Cubs are hoping he can go deeper and throw less pitches than he did in his Major League debut Tuesday. In his first start, Diamond became the second Cubs pitcher to strike out 10 in his Major League debut since 1920. Mark Prior also did so May 22, 2002, against the Pirates.
“I was pitching to [catcher Geovany Soto] tonight,” Diamond said. “That was it. Those guys are all great hitters. I’m not going to take anything away from those guys. They’re all big league hitters, they’ve got All-Stars. To me, a hitter is a hitter, and all the accolades they get, they deserve and I just need to find a way to get them out.”
He sought some divine intervention. He ran to the outfield wall in left center at Wrigley Field before starting his warmup throws, crouched down, and said a prayer. He does that before every game in honor of his late grandfather and cousin. Their initials are written on the underside of the bill of his cap.
At 27 years 214 days old, he’s the oldest pitcher to debut for the Cubs since Marcelino Solis (27 years 362 days) on July 16, 1958, vs. Cincinnati. The Rangers’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2004, Diamond’s career was slowed when he needed Tommy John surgery in 2007. The Cubs claimed him off waivers last September.
“I’ve always known he had great stuff,” said Marlon Byrd, who was with Diamond with the Rangers. “He just needed a chance. He’s healthy now. Hopefully, he’ll get another chance to show what he has. As everyone can see, he can pitch and he can put up some strikeouts. Next time out, he needs to pound the zone.”
Diamond, who will start again Sunday vs. the Reds, struck out leadoff batter Rickie Weeks on three pitches.
“I located a couple pitches on [Weeks] and I got a checked swing on a marginal fastball at the end,” he said. “I was hoping I would carry that into the next few hitters and keep going and build on it. I started to and then got off track a little bit. Hopefully, I can put it more together next start.”
He was pulled after throwing 122 bullpen-saving pitches. His high at Triple-A Iowa was 115 on July 19.
“The goal this year was to get noticed and get up here and I’ve done that,” he said, “and now that I’m here, it’s to stay as long as I can.”
— Carrie Muskat