MINNEAPOLIS Scott Diamond has never been one to back down from a challenge.
When the left-hander didn't make the Twins' Opening Day roster out of spring training, it was a challenge. He responded by pitching well with Triple-A Rochester and earning a promotion to the majors. Diamond made his 2012 debut on May 8 and has since become Minnesota's most consistent starting pitcher. After a win Sunday in Cincinnati, the 25-year-old Diamond is now 6-3 with a 2.67 ERA in 10 starts.
But another challenge that was thrown his way over a decade ago has transformed how Diamond lives his life both in the clubhouse and away from baseball. A friend of Diamond's noticed him washing his hands and then drying them with a paper towel. The friend challenged Diamond to use as few sheets of paper towel as possible.
From that point on, being green and environmentally conscious has become a way of life for Diamond.
"Ever since then, it's never been about as much as I can use. It's always been about as little waste as I can create," Diamond said. "That's kind of been my focus from then on."
It's not always easy to be environmentally conscious and a professional baseball player at the same time, and Diamond first became serious about going green when he entered pro ball in 2008. One needs to look no further than a baseball dugout on any given night to see how much waste is produced during a game. Gatorade cups are strewn about the floor, often discarded after just one use.
But not Diamond's. He's an exception to the rule, as he'll reuse the same cup over and over -- even as long as a few games in a row, said one teammate, before tossing it out.
Diamond said he's also had discussions with clubhouse attendants at different ballparks about the number of paper plates or other materials used for pregame and postgame meals. Diamond always tries to limit the amount of waste he creates.
"It's kind of that three R's thing -- reduce, reuse, recycle," Diamond said. "As clich and as childish as it is, it's something that I've grown up with. I think growing up in Canada, we would have environmental commercials just to get kids to think about being less wasteful."
Diamond hasn't necessarily forced his way of thinking upon his teammates, either. He tries to lead by example, knowing that pressing the issue doesn't always reach his intended audience.
Slowly but surely, his Twins teammates are picking up on Diamond's philosophy.
"He won't get on you or anything, which I think for most people that recycle, it's the same theory for voting," said Twins reliever Glen Perkins. "If you think your vote doesn't matter, then don't vote. But I think he wants to do his part. I support that. I try to recycle when I can."
Added outfielder Ben Revere: "If I throw away a ball in the trash can, he kind of just looks at me. . . . I'm recycling a lot now. I see myself throwing (things) in the recycling bin so he won't give me the evil look again."
For Diamond, a native of Guelph, Ontario, living green extends into life away from baseball. He spends his offseasons in New York City and rarely, if ever, drives a car in the city.
"I don't like to get in my car and drive places," he said. "I'll do it for a vacation or something. (Walking is) an easy way to get exercise in. . . . Just being around in that city life, you can really move around and really get to whatever you want within walking distance, and I really like that. The same thing, because you live in a city, you don't have as much space so you have to be a little more resourceful with what you have."
In that sense, Diamond is glad to call Target Field home during the season. The downtown Minneapolis ballpark has hundreds of parking spaces for bicycles, encouraging fans to bike to games. It's also easily accessible by public transit, including the light rail and city buses. On top of that, Target Field is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver Certified, making it the greenest ballpark in the majors according to the U.S. Green Building Council.
Just like the Twins and Target Field are doing their part to help the environment, so too is Diamond. Minnesota's fans currently know the left-hander more for his accomplishments on the mound, but Diamond hoping to leave his mark on the game in other ways.
"Being in the position we are as major league baseball players, we can bring awareness to any topic we want. I think this is pretty good," Diamond said. "If we can try to start it here and just continue to influence as many minds and create as many new ideas as we can, then who knows where it's going to take us. All you can hope for is to improve the future."
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