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Latest on key position battles: Toles impresses

Dodgers outfielder among several players to play well Wednesday
MLB.com @MannyOnMLB

With Spring Training games well underway, battles for positions and roster spots are coming into focus. Whether it's a veteran player trying to secure a starting role or a prospect knocking on the door to the big leagues, the competition is strong around the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.

Here's a roundup of notable performances among players battling for positions or roster spots Wednesday:

With Spring Training games well underway, battles for positions and roster spots are coming into focus. Whether it's a veteran player trying to secure a starting role or a prospect knocking on the door to the big leagues, the competition is strong around the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.

Here's a roundup of notable performances among players battling for positions or roster spots Wednesday:

Andrew Toles, Dodgers, OF
Toles went 1-for-2 with a two-run homer in the Dodgers' 10-5 loss to the Padres on Wednesday. The 25-year-old is coming off major knee surgery and is competing with Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, Alex Verdugo and Trayce Thompson for an outfield spot on the Dodgers' roster.

Toles tore the ACL in his right knee while chasing a ball hit down the left-field line last May. In 31 games last season, he slashed .271/.314/.458 with five homers. He said the knee felt good Wednesday, but added that he hasn't really tested it at full speed to this point.

The other Dodgers outfield candidates who played Wednesday had mixed results: Pederson went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, and Verdugo went 1-for-2 with a diving catch to rob Travis Jankowski of a hit.

Brandon Nimmo, Mets, OF
Nimmo, who has appeared in 101 games for the Mets over the past two seasons, looks to impress in camp in order to gain a greater share of playing time in center field this season. He made strides forward Wednesday, launching a first-pitch homer over the right-field wall against the Braves.

Nimmo finds himself battling for playing time in center, along with Juan Lagares, who is known primarily for his strong defense. While Lagares works to refine a new swing entering camp this year, the 24-year-old Nimmo is being more aggressive at the plate. More >

Video: NYM@ATL: Nimmo hits solo homer in the 4th

Jurickson Profar, Rangers, INF/OF
Profar, a highly regarded prospect coming up through the Rangers' system, hasn't been able to sustain a high level of play for Texas thus far. But at 25 years old, he still has youth on his side and has a chance to make the Opening Day roster. On Wednesday against the White Sox, he went 1-for-3 with an RBI double.

"It's a situation where I told him, 'Don't worry about what the end of Spring Training brings, just go get yourself ready to play and make yourself one of the core group of players,'" said Rangers manager Jeff Banister. "He's doing that." More >

Video: TEX@CWS: Profar doubles home Choo in the first

Mark Leiter, Phillies, SP
Leiter needed just 24 pitches in two scoreless innings to dispatch the Blue Jays, striking out five batters while displaying a nasty splitter. The 26-year-old right-hander is vying for a spot in Philadelphia's starting rotation, and even if he doesn't crack it, he looks to be a strong bullpen candidate.

Given that the rotation is pretty wide open behind Aaron Nola this spring, more outings like Wednesday's for Leiter could solidify a spot for him.

Video: Mark Leiter on his 2017 season, family advice

Andrew Romine, Mariners, INF/OF
In his first spring with the Mariners, Romine is living up to his billing as a versatile player, having appeared at second base and third base, and on Wednesday against the Indians, he played shortstop. He also has been hitting well: After going 1-for-3 Wednesday, he's batting .500 (6-for-12) with a double and a homer in five Cactus League games.

Romine's competition for the utility role includes Taylor Motter and veteran Gordon Beckham. Motter had the role in 2017, slashing .198/.257/.326 with seven homers in 280 plate appearances. But he has been hot to open the spring as well, going 5-for-14 (.357) with two doubles in five games.

Beckham has opened camp with a hot start of his own, going 7-for-11 with a double and a homer. The 31-year-old infielder spent most of last season at Triple-A Tacoma, slashing .262/.313/.393 with nine homers in 83 games.

Video: SEA@CLE: Romine hits a single to left field

Jason Motte, Cardinals, RP
In his first stint with the Cardinals, Motte became one of the best relievers in the game. From 2010-12, he posted a 2.43 ERA and 9.5 K/9 innings. But he underwent Tommy John surgery the following offseason and has since been unable to regain that dominant form while pitching for the Cubs, Rockies and Braves the past three seasons.

The 35-year-old Motte has opened camp this year with two solid outings, including a scoreless fourth inning vs. the Orioles on Wednesday as he tries to lock down a spot in the Cardinals' bullpen.

Video: STL@BAL: Motte retires Schoop in the 4th

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals