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Burnett continues mental and physical progress

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Especially at the top of the Phillies lineup, A.J. Burnett faced a legitimate group of big leaguers this afternoon. He sent the side down in order in three straight innings, including a strikeout of Ryan Howard.

In his second spring start, though, Burnett stated the obvious: Numbers aren’t showing us what’s truly important. Three scoreless is nice, but Burnett is happier that he’s not only repeating his mechanics, but repeating them without thinking about every step of the process.

“The fact I was in control,” he said. “The fact the last batter of the game I faced, I think the last five pitches were all down and away, and they were all in the exact perfect spot. I’m able to repeat easier, and as of right now, my mind’s clear. I’m not thinking about this and that, I’m just attacking.”

Burnett threw 45 pitches, 30 for strikes. His curveball isn’t where he wants it to be, but he said that pitch always comes slowly.

“I’ve got confidence, where I’m at now on the mound, that it’s going to be there,” Burnett said.

Of course, we had our annual Burnett-talks-about-his-changeup conversation this afternoon.

“I told (Russell Martin) I wasn’t going to shake for it, so if you want me to throw it, you’ve got to put it down,” Burnett said. “Sure enough, first lefty, he put it down.”

Martin caught Burnett in the bullpen earlier this spring, but this was his first time catching Burnett in a game. His opinion isn’t clouded by last year’s results, and he said he was impressed by how aggressive Burnett worked with his fastball.

“All you can really do is look forward,” Martin said.