Diamond loosens up in more ways than one

Scott Diamond threw nearly 50 pitches in the Twins bullpen Wednesday morning and immediately discovered a side effect of the increase in work.

“He had a smile on his face for a change,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You didn’t see too many smiles on his face, but today he made some strides. He understands what the plan is, the timeline, where we’re at. He’s feeling pretty good. He’s starting to be able to do some things with a baseball.”

That timeline includes another workout or two in the bullpen, then a one- or two-inning debut March 18 against the Marlins. It’s too early to say whether Diamond, who had bone chips removed from his pitching elbow in December, will be ready to come north at the end of the month, but Gardenhire said it doesn’t matter.

“I’m not too worried about it, as long as he’s healthy when we get there,” Gardenhire said of the lefthander, who won 12 games last season. “He’s going to have to get his [number of] pitches up, get to 90-plus pitches. We’ll see how long that takes him.”

WBC preparations

Twins prospects Jose Berrios pitched a scoreless inning Wednesday and Eddie Rosario lined a single in three at-bats for Puerto Rico against the Twins, leading Gardenhire to say he was happy for them as they prepare for the World Baseball Classic.

“Good for those kids. I’ll bet they’re having the time of their lives, standing over there with some pretty good players in that dugout,” Gardenhire said of a Puerto Rico roster that includes major league veterans such as Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina and Alex Rios. “Rosario can do nothing but get hits for us. I told him I was going to kick his butt if he got a hit against us, and he did it anyway.”