Thursday, June 28, 2012

Diamond and Plouffe talk to Season Ticket Holders

As part of the Twins off day on Thursday, the Twins held their sixth Fan Forum with current third baseman Trevor Plouffe and left-handed pitcher Scott Diamond. This conference call allows season ticket holders, "On-Deck" members, and group organizers to ask a variety of questions in the hour long event. There were also multiple prizes given away including on-field passes, VIP parking, the opportunity to raise the Twins Territory Flag, and some autographed items.

There were some interesting quotes from both players over the course of the night but one quote from Diamond stuck out to me. The fan that asked the question wanted to know what players on the Twins had made the biggest impact on their careers. Since Diamond is a pitcher, he mentioned Carl Pavano and a surprising name, Kevin Slowey. He made note of the fact that Slowey taught him different ways to think about his approach to pitching. After Slowey's rough exit from the organization, it is interesting to hear his impact on what is now the team's best starting pitcher.

Diamond also talked highly about the welcoming environment in the Twins clubhouse when he joined the team last year. He said this was an improvement over what he had seen in the Braves organization. Later in the call, Diamond talked about using the other veteran players on ways to approach hitters in the American League. Other hurlers like Brian Duensing and Carl Pavano have helped to familiarize him with their opponents.

On more than one occasion, Diamond praised the work of Rick Anderson to help him make his turnaround. He said that "Andy" gets him mentally prepared for each start in a variety of ways. There are times that Diamond can try and pitch to the scouting reports too much and this takes away from his game. Anderson helps Diamond by keeping him focused on his style of pitching and it seems to have worked so far.

Here are some other random tidbits from Diamond's answers on Thursday night. Fellow left-hander Andy Pettitte is someone that Diamond admires because of their similar throwing style. His favorite park to pitch in is the Rogers Centre because it is close to his family in Canada. On his off days, Diamond likes to spend time outside and on the water. He came from a National League organization but he likes the DH. He said it takes away from his pitching when he has to think about all that goes into batting.

There have obviously been some changes to Plouffe's approach at the plate during the 2012 season. While Diamond talked highly of Anderson, Plouffe had nothing but praise for Joe Valvra and the hard work that he has done. He credited Valvra with making his swing better and for having a vast knowledge about every pitcher the Twins face. Part of the changes for Plouffe have come in the last week. He referred to the last seven days as "slider mania" because of the way pitchers have changed their approach with him at the plate. This is just one more thing for him and Valvra to work on.

One of the poll questions for the night was about who the fans thought would lead the team in home runs by the end of the year. A laughable choice in the live poll was Joe Mauer and needless to say, he didn't finish first in the balloting. When Plouffe was asked about his battle with Josh Willingham for leading the team in home runs, he said that he doesn't care who ends up on top. If Diamond and Plouffe had their way, both Plouffe and Willingham would finish tied with atleast 70 home runs.

There are some other things that Plouffe has been focusing on as he finds himself in the line-up on a daily basis. Since he hasn't played much third base in the past, he is putting in a lot of work at the hot corner. There are new angles to the ball that he has to get use to at third. He has been working on his defense a lot and he stressed the fact that his defense is an important part of his game. Plouffe wants to be a good defensive player at third and not just an average defender.

Here are some other tidbits from Plouffe's answers during the conversation. He has been taking more first pitches this season so he can work on tracking pitches. This has especially been the case with pitchers he has never seen before. He loves to play golf on his off day. Today he went with Anthony Swarzak, Brian Dozier, and Drew Butera. Apparently Drew Butera is a stud on the golf course. His favorite stadium to play in is Angels Stadium because his family is from the area. There were plenty of jokes about Plouffe being engaged and how daughters across Twins Territory are up in arms about him being off of the market.

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