Healthy Diamond set to compete for rotation spot

Healthy Diamond set to compete for rotation spot

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Unlike last season, when he came into camp rehabbing from elbow surgery, left-hander Scott Diamond is healthy heading into Spring Training and ready to compete for the final spot in the rotation.

Diamond, who started last season on the 15-day disabled list after undergoing offseason surgery to remove a bone chip from his left elbow, threw his first official bullpen session of the spring on Tuesday and was pleased with how it went.

"Everything went really well, actually," Diamond said. "The curveball was a lot farther along than I thought it would be and the changeup was good. So it was definitely big progress today."

But unlike last season, when he was guaranteed a spot in the rotation after a solid rookie season in 2011, Diamond is fighting for the last spot in the rotation along with Samuel Deduno, Vance Worley and Kyle Gibson.

Diamond, who like Deduno and Worley is out of Minor League options, said he's doing his best not to worry about the competition just yet. But he said he feels much more like the pitcher who posted a 3.54 ERA as a rookie than the one who had a 5.43 ERA last year.

"I came in prepared, or at least as prepared as the offseason allowed me," Diamond said. "I'm ready to pitch right out of the gate from Day One. It's going to be competitive and fun because of it. I have to take it one day at a time because the more I think about it, the more I get in my own head."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.