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Breaking down eight remaining roster battles

With just days before the season opener, Padres still have many decisions to make
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- After 40 days in Peoria, the Padres break camp and head for El Paso on Sunday. They'll face their Triple-A affiliate in an exhibition there on Monday night. Then, it's decision time.

As it stands, 17 places on the roster are secure by now. That leaves eight competitions still to be settled. Here's a breakdown of those position battles, with the contenders for each spot.

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- After 40 days in Peoria, the Padres break camp and head for El Paso on Sunday. They'll face their Triple-A affiliate in an exhibition there on Monday night. Then, it's decision time.

As it stands, 17 places on the roster are secure by now. That leaves eight competitions still to be settled. Here's a breakdown of those position battles, with the contenders for each spot.

View Full Game Coverage

Starting second baseman
Candidates: Cory Spangenberg, Carlos Asuaje

The spring's most hotly contested race, Spangenberg and Asuaje impressed immensely during camp. But the Padres have said they're likely to take only one of the two, given their similar skill sets (both are lefty-hitting second basemen without much pop). If that's the case, Asuaje's spring numbers are slightly more favorable.

Backup catcher
Candidates: Raffy Lopez, A.J. Ellis

Ellis and Lopez bring immensely different resumes to their roster bids, yet both have appealing cases for the backup job behind Austin Hedges. Lopez has raked all spring, and his lefty bat would be a nice complement to Hedges. Ellis, a proven on-base threat, boasts 10 years of big league experience and plenty of expertise to give a young pitching staff. It's possible the Padres keep both.

Video: TEX@SD: Lopez belts a long three-run homer

Backup center fielder
Candidates: Matt Szczur, Travis Jankowski

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

It's a near certainty that Hunter Renfroe will serve as the Padres' fourth outfielder, leaving one place available. Ten days ago, it was Franchy Cordero's job to lose. The 23-year-old rookie boasted a high-upside bat, elite speed and the ability to shine at all three outfield spots.

Instead, he'll open the year on the DL with groin tightness, leaving Jankowski and Szczur. If the Padres want a speed-and-defense type to use as a late-game replacement, Jankowski has the edge. But Szczur, who is out of options, is more potent as a hitter.

Fifth starter
Candidates: Tyson Ross, Chris Young

Luis Perdomo secured his roster place on Sunday, and he'll open the season as the club's No. 3 starter against Milwaukee. That leaves Ross and Young -- from nearly a dozen rotation candidates entering camp -- vying for the final spot. Numbers-wise, it's been a better spring for Ross. He has the clear edge here, given that Young could also be used in relief.

Video: SD@LAD: Ross gives up one hit in four-plus innings

Long relief/spot starter
Candidates: Young, Robbie Erlin, Jordan Lyles

It's possible the Padres carry more than one of these three, but they're almost certain to carry at least one. Young filled the role admirably during the Royals' 2015 World Series run. Lyles struggled with the same task in Colorado over the last two years. Erlin has an option year remaining and is the only one of the three who could be sent to the Minors.

Two relievers
Candidates: Phil Maton, Buddy Baumann, Carter Capps, Kyle McGrath, Colten Brewer, Adam Cimber, Jonathan Aro, Lyles, Erlin, Young

It's very likely one of the remaining relief spots goes to a left-hander, leaving McGrath, Baumann and Erlin in play. Baumann has the clear edge based on his spring. After that, it's a wide-open race. Phil Maton and Colten Brewer are names to keep an eye on.

25th man
Candidates: Lopez, Spangenberg, Asuaje, Dusty Coleman, an eighth reliever

If you've done the math, all of this leaves one roster spot available without a position assigned to it. For that spot, the Padres will choose from among a third catcher, a sixth infielder and an eighth reliever. Coleman's chances took a hit when the Padres said they'd be willing to go without a conventional backup at short. There's been serious momentum growing for Lopez to make the roster as the primary lefty bat off the bench. But the club's crowded bullpen race could overflow into this spot instead.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

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