Rangers' Diamond To Miss Season

SURPRISE, Ariz.--It just wouldn't be the Rangers if spring training didn't bring some kind of cataclysmic injury to a prized prospect.

Well, it's officially spring training. Thomas Diamond is done for the year. He had Tommy John surgery on March 20 with noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews proceeding.

Diamond, the 10th overall pick in the 2004 draft, has long been considered one of the Rangers' starting pitchers of the future. The future now starts with 2008--at the earliest.

Diamond arrived at camp complaining of a bit of tendonitis in his right shoulder, but attempted to pitch through it. After his one "A" game outing on March 6, he complained of increased soreness. By having the surgery now, Diamond, 23, could be ready by the early portion of the 2008 season.

"It's a setback," general manager Jon Daniels said. "But this (surgery) has a high success rate. I expect him back but he's going to miss the season. You feel for Thomas. He worked hard this offseason."

Diamond was the organization's minor league pitcher of the year in 2005 when he went 13-4, 3.53 in a season split between Class A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco. But he took a step back last year at Frisco. He walked four batters per nine innings in 2005, but it was up to 6.0 last season. Despite the walk problem, Diamond still went 12-5, 5.43 and led the Texas League with 145 strikeouts in 129 innings.

Diamond will have to be protected on the 40-man roster this winter, which could put the Rangers in a difficult spot. He probably won't be ready to begin the 2008 season, but could be pitching shortly thereafter. If left off the roster, a team that decided to pluck him in the Rule 5 draft could nurse him through the rest of his DL stay and then put him in the big leagues.