Feb. 29: The rise and fall of guys named Almonte

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 20: Abraham Almonte #48 of the Arizona Diamondbacks poses for a portrait during photo day at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on February 20, 2019 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 20: Abraham Almonte #48 of the Arizona Diamondbacks poses for a portrait during photo day at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on February 20, 2019 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Winner: Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher

As questions swirl around the composition and health of the team’s rotation, the Cardinals increasingly need Martinez to come through. Facing the Nationals in his second spring start, Martinez was as calming as announcement of a vaccine against coronavirus.

Against the Nationals, he delivered three hitless innings, striking out four. The only hiccups were three bases on balls. But two came with two out and the last was offset by a double play grounder.

That performance was reassuring, coming as it did in the wake of a shaky debut in which he gave up two runs in one and one-third innings.

Winner: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles first baseman

The resurrection of Chris Davis continues. Hoping to overcome the negative juju from back-to-back sub. 200 batting averages, Davis hit his third spring home run against the Miami Marlins, and ran his spring batting average to .714.

Davis’ home run came with two runners on base and highlighted a five-run Baltimore second inning. He also drew his fourth spring base on balls.

Davis is now batting .714 for the spring with a nifty 2.000 slugging average.

Winner: Eduardo Rodriguez, Boston Red Sox pitcher

The Red Sox lost 5-2 to the Yankees, but they did get good news in the form of a strong spring debut by Eduardo Rodriguez.

Coming off a 19-6 2019 season, Rodriguez pitched three solid innings. He did allow two base hits, but offset that with six strikeouts.

Rodriguez’ only rough spot came in the second, when Clint Frazier led off with a double and Erik Kratz singled him to third. Rodriguez responded by striking out Thairo Estrada, then got a double play ball out of Estevan Florial to quell that threat.

Winner (and non-roster player of the day): Abraham Almonte, San Diego Padres outfielder

Almonte is a seven-year journeyman whose resume includes stints with the Mariners, Padres, Indians, Royals and Diamondbacks. He and his .239 career batting average are in camp this spring trying to win a job in the Padres outfield.

Padres manager Jayce Tingler gave Almonte a long look in the leadoff position against the Cincinnati Reds Saturday. Almonte sent the game’s second pitch into left field for a triple, singled in the second, and delivered another single in a four-run Padre fifth inning.

Collectively, it was a performance that had to help Almonte’s chances with the Padres.