As we all know -- yet can't emphasize enough -- spring training performances at this point aren't indicative of what we're likely to see during the regular season. That being said, you can pick and choose based upon circumstances which players did something relatively significant, and three starting pitchers in particular took the hill Monday and likely made their respective teams feel pretty happy.
1. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies. The Rockies' ace had his start pushed back a few days due to an infection in his thumb, but he took the hill Monday and showed he was just fine. He worked three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and one walk. It's safe to say there's no reason to worry about him at all the rest of the spring -- assuming he doesn't suffer a different injury.
2. John Lackey, Red Sox. He was a major bust last season, putting up his worst ERA since 2004 and the worst WHIP of his career. Last week, Lackey said he was "tired" of talking about last season. The best way to quiet the critics is to come out and have a good 2011. He's building himself a nice foundation in the spring. He threw four shutout innings Monday, allowing just one hit and no walks.
3. A.J. Burnett, Yankees. After an incredibly disappointing 2010 season, Burnett seems on track to put the negative behind him. He threw three perfect innings Monday, keeping his spring ERA at 0.00. A big season from Burnett would be paramount to the Yankees' success this season.
1. Mike Leake and Homer Bailey, Reds. The defending NL Central champs have a pretty strong group of guys vying for the last two rotation spots, and neither of the two listed here did much for himself Monday. Bailey started and went 2 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and four earned runs. On the plus side, he did strikeout three while walking none. Leake went three innings, but coughed up nine hits and four earned runs. Travis Wood is the third starter in the mix, and he looked good last time out.
2. Blake DeWitt, Cubs. The second baseman was hitless in three at-bats. Normally that wouldn't be too awful, but his team pounded out 18 hits and 14 runs. He's now just 3 for 18 this spring. To rub salt in the wound, his replacement -- Scott Moore -- hit a grand slam in his first at-bat after taking over for DeWitt.
3. Luis Castillo, Mets. The veteran is in a four-way battle for the job of starting second baseman. After going hitless in three at-bats, he's now 2 for 13 this spring (.154). This coming after new manager Terry Collins has made it known he wants some offense from second. Needless to say, things aren't looking great right now for Castillo.
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