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As spring nears, clubs face key position questions

MLB.com @TracyRingolsby

With Spring Training camps opening in two weeks, teams will start to get a firsthand look at the potential answers to the questions they have dealt with in the offseason.

It's deeper than "Who's on First?" It is about looking for pieces that might be a part of a pennant winner.

With Spring Training camps opening in two weeks, teams will start to get a firsthand look at the potential answers to the questions they have dealt with in the offseason.

It's deeper than "Who's on First?" It is about looking for pieces that might be a part of a pennant winner.

Every team has questions to answer, some more serious than others.

So with Spring Training around the corner, let's go around the diamond and look at each position's biggest question:

Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy is an elite receiver, but the Brewers are in rebuilding mode, and he is the type of player who could bring an impact package of prospects. A focus of the team's spring will be sorting through offers for Lucroy, deciding if any are enough to entice the team to give up a franchise cornerstone.

First base: Josh Bell is the Pirates' first baseman of the future. When will the future begin? Bell, who has only 35 games of experience at the Triple-A level and is making the conversion from the outfield, could force Pittsburgh's hand with an impressive spring. If not, the club will open with a platoon of John Jaso and Michael Morse, waiting for signs that Bell is ready to ring in his big league opportunity.

Second base: With the acquisition of Jean Segura from the Brewers, the D-backs answered questions about one of their two middle-infield regulars, most likely putting him at shortstop but with the idea he could also take over second base. They also have the makings of a spirited spring competition among Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed and Phil Gosselin for the other spot.

Video: Duquette on Segura trade between Brewers and D-backs

Shortstop: The Rockies are uncertain who will be at short, given Jose Reyes has been charged with domestic abuse against his wife with a trial date set for Opening Day, and faces possible suspension by Commissioner Rob Manfred under baseball's new domestic abuse regulations. That will have Colorado giving a close look to Cristhian Adames, who made an impression during his big league debut late last season, and Trevor Story, who is ranked by MLB.com as the No. 11 prospect in the Rockies' system and played at Triple-A for 61 games following Adames' promotion to the Majors last year.

Third base: With last year's midseason trade of Aramis Ramirez to the Pirates, the Brewers opened up playing time at third. Aaron Hill, a second baseman by trade, figures to get the first shot at making the move to the hot corner, but Milwaukee also brought in onetime Red Sox phenom Will Middlebrooks, who signed a Minor League deal after being cut loose by the Padres, and a year ago gave Hernan Perez an audition.

Left field: Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier are both left-handed hitters. They both carry sizable salaries -- Crawford is third on the Dodgers at $21.6 million this year and Ethier is fourth at $18 million. And they both are best suited in left, particularly with the possibility of a Joc Pederson /Enrique Hernandez platoon in center field. Injuries have limited Crawford to 218 starts in three seasons with the Dodgers.

Video: Cameron Maybin talks about getting traded to Tigers

Center field: Cameron Maybin returns to where his pro career began -- Detroit. The Tigers' first-round pick (10th overall) in the 2010 Draft, Maybin was acquired in an offseason deal with the Braves for Ian Krol and prospect Gabe Speier. Now can the right-handed hitter finally claim an everyday role in the Motor City, or will he wind up in a platoon with incumbent center fielder Anthony Gose?

Right field: Torii Hunter may be retired, but he will be in camp with the Twins. This time he is going to be instructing. Minnesota knows it needs the bat of Miguel Sano in the lineup after he hit 18 homers and drove in 52 runs in 279 at-bats during his big league debut last year. But the Twins opted to keep third baseman Trevor Plouffe and signed Byung Ho Park to be the designated hitter, which means finding a place for Sano. Enter right field, and the desire to have Hunter provide guidance.

Video: Outlook: Sano a candidate for 30 homers in 2016

Rotation: The Angels have eight experienced starters, but only five rotation spots. Hard to believe Garrett Richards, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Andrew Heaney won't be part of the final five. That leaves an interesting spring battle for the fifth spot among Hector Santiago, an All-Star last season; Tyler Skaggs, coming off Tommy John surgery; Matt Shoemaker, runner-up for the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2014, and rising prospect Nick Tropeano, acquired a year ago from the Astros in the Hank Conger trade.

Closer: After early-season plans fizzled a year ago, the Blue Jays called on 20-year-old Roberto Osuna to handle closer chores in what became an AL East title season. However, during the offseason, they added Drew Storen, who has handled ninth-inning chores with Washington. In the spring, the decision will be made on what to do with Osuna, who could close, set up or maybe even get a rotation shot. Osuna, after converting 16 saves in row when he was initially installed in the ninth-inning role, gave up eight runs in 12 innings and faltered in two of six save situations over his final 13 appearances.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cristhian Adames, Nick Ahmed, Josh Bell, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Phil Gosselin, Aaron Hill, Jonathan Lucroy, Cameron Maybin, Roberto Osuna, Chris Owings, Miguel Sano, Hector Santiago, Jean Segura, Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs, Drew Storen, Trevor Story, Nick Tropeano