02/12/2013 3:07 PM ET
With ink dry on extension, Burton grateful for health
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Reliever Jared Burton said Tuesday that he's entering the season without any health restrictions and is grateful for the two-year extension he signed with the Twins this offseason.
The Twins were cautious with Burton last year, as the right-hander was coming off shoulder surgery from the year before while he was with the Reds. They tried to keep away from using him in back-to-back appearances early in the season to ease him into the year.
But Burton, who was signed to a Minor League deal before last season, ended up impressing the Twins by posting a 2.18 ERA in a career-high 62 innings. And he was rewarded with a two-year extension worth $5.5 million this offseason that includes an option for '15.
"It was real nice," Burton said. "I had some bumps in the road, health-wise, in Cincinnati, but to keep working and see it all pay off and be part of this organization for a couple more years is a good thing."
Burton is expected to be the club's top setup reliever this season behind left-handed closer Glen Perkins. He's already throwing bullpen sessions in Fort Myers and said he's feels stronger than at this point last year.
"Health-wise and strength-wise, I'm right where I need to be," Burton said. "I'm anxious to get going."
Opening Day 'in limbo' for Twins lefty Diamond
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After emerging as the Twins' best starter in 2012, left-hander Scott Diamond figured to enter Spring Training as the favorite to be the club's Opening Day starter against the Tigers on April 1 at Target Field.
But Diamond had a bone chip removed from his left elbow in December and said on Tuesday that there's still a chance he won't be ready for the start of the season. He threw from 120 feet on Tuesday and is expected to progress to 150 feet on Friday before throwing his first bullpen session next week.
"It's tough to say right now, because of the way the arm feels," Diamond said. "We're still taking it pretty slow. So it's going to be pretty tight toward Opening Day. But I think a lot of it will do with how I do when I throw off the mound for the first time. If everything is going well and the mechanics feel smooth, I think that will really project how it'll be Opening Day. But right now, it's in limbo."
Diamond, 26, was a pleasant surprise last season, leading the staff with 12 wins and a 3.54 ERA in 27 starts. He said it's still his goal to pitch on Opening Day, but he's not going to force the issue if he's not ready.
"That's the battle right now, mentally," Diamond said. "It's something you dream about. But it's a long season, and if that's what we have to do, I'll just bite my tongue and do it."
Swarzak shows remorse for horseplay incident
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Anthony Swarzak apologized on Tuesday for the wrestling incident with teammates that occurred on Jan. 25 that caused him to crack two ribs.
Swarzak said he's expected to be out another three weeks, but that he plans on being ready for Opening Day. The incident occurred while he was in Minneapolis for TwinsFest.
"It was a bad situation to put myself in, and here I am with a couple broken ribs," Swarzak said. "It was a very freak thing. It was a stupid thing that shouldn't have been done. It was a horseplay incident. I put myself in a situation I should've have been in."
Swarzak added he's asked fellow right-hander Cole De Vries for advice, because De Vries cracked a rib last season in mid-September and missed the last two weeks of the season.
"I haven't dealt with a rib injury like this before." Swarzak said. "[But] this shouldn't affect being ready for Opening Day at all."
• The Twins didn't have any issues with any of their 43 pitchers or catchers reporting on time to Lee County Sports Complex on Tuesday, but injured right-handers Nick Blackburn (wrist surgery) and Lester Oliveros (Tommy John surgery) were both sent to Minor League camp, because they aren't ready to pitch.
• Several pitchers, such as Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Liam Hendriks, Casey Fien, Tyler Robertson and Vance Worley, participated in light workouts Tuesday, though official workouts don't begin for Twins pitchers and catchers until Wednesday morning.
• That first Twins workout begins at 8:30 a.m. ET, with catchers going over signs with manager Ron Gardenhire. Later in the morning, pitchers are scheduled to work out and throw bullpen sessions with the nine catchers invited to camp: Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit, Drew Butera, Chris Herrmann, Danny Lehmann, Dan Rohlfing, Josmil Pinto, Kyle Knudson and Eric Fryer.