While much of the focus during Spring Training is on Major League stars preparing for the regular season, the exhibition season is also home to heated position battles throughout all 30 big league camps.Each day in Cactus and Grapefruit League play, players take the field vying to impress, competing for
While much of the focus during Spring Training is on Major League stars preparing for the regular season, the exhibition season is also home to heated position battles throughout all 30 big league camps.
Each day in Cactus and Grapefruit League play, players take the field vying to impress, competing for playing time or a place on the Opening Day roster. Below is a look at some of the key position battles from Wednesday's action:
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Cory Spangenberg, Carlos Asuaje, Padres, 2B
The spotlight in Padres camp is on the battle at second base between Spangenberg and Asuaje. The after-effects from signing Eric Hosmer this offseason means the loser in that competition may be left off the Opening Day roster. Asuaje has the early edge, batting .333 through 10 exhibition games, while Spangenberg is 4-for-17 (.235) and has missed time with a left wrist injury.
"We'll watch those guys continue to compete," manager Andy Green said. "I love the aggression they're both playing with." More >
Taylor Williams, Brewers, RHP
Williams is turning heads in Brewers camp with a strong performance this spring. The 26-year-old came back from Tommy John surgery in 2017 after missing two full seasons and broke into the Majors, finishing with five relief appearances in the final month of the season. He has allowed one run and struck out seven batters through four innings in Cactus League play.
"He's certainly a guy that we've taken note of," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I don't think we've made any decisions on Taylor yet. He's made an impression here, for sure." More >
Tyler Clippard, Blue Jays, RHP
The Blue Jays added another reliever to their bullpen mix by signing veteran Clippard to a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training on Wednesday. Clippard, a two-time All-Star, is one of several candidates competing for two open relief roles in Toronto's 'pen.
"Set up, close, I've done it all," Clippard said. "So I think I can bring a lot of versatility to the bullpen, which I think will be beneficial for the club and give [manager] John [Gibbons] a few more options." More >
Austin Wynns, Orioles, C
Wynns, Baltimore's No. 24 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is among the catchers -- along with Chance Sisco and Andrew Susac -- competing for a backup role behind Caleb Joseph. Despite batting just 2-for-9 (.222) this spring, Wynns has impressed with his defensive ability.
"All of us have a shot, a great shot," Wynns said. "What makes me stand out is being who I am. What I try to do is lead with defense -- that's win the game, win the day, and I have to do that every day." More >
Austin Romine, Yankees, C
The Yankees are set at catcher with Gary Sanchez, but Romine is pushing for playing time behind the plate and having an impressive spring thus far. He went 2-for-3 on Wednesday to improve his Grapefruit League average to .667 (8-for-12). Romine played in a MLB career-high 80 games last season as Sanchez's backup and figures to have a significant role in 2018. More >
Justin Nicolino, Marlins, LHP
Nicolino started for the Marlins against the Astros on Wednesday, allowing a two-run homer to Jose Altuve and striking out three batters in two innings. The southpaw is out of Minor League options and is vying to make the Opening Day roster as part of Miami's rotation. He's also a candidate for a relief role.
"For me, I'm in a situation of whatever happens happens," Nicolino said. "All I can do is go out and do my job, whatever job that is, whatever is asked of me." More >
Rafael Montero, Mets, RHP
Montero, who's in line for a spot in the Mets' Opening Day bullpen, stumbled in his relief appearance against the Yankees on Wednesday, squandering a 4-1 lead. He struck out the first batter he faced before allowing three straight hits and a bases-loaded walk, bumping his spring ERA up to 6.23. More >
Antonio Senzatela, Rockies, RHP
Senzatela improved his chances of making the Rockies' Opening Day rotation for a second straight season by having a strong performance Wednesday. He held the Rangers to one run and four hits through four innings of work. More >
Jimmy Herget, Reds, RHP
Herget, Cincinnati's 15th-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is competing for a bullpen role as a non-roster invitee. He has allowed three earned runs over three innings in exhibition play, but all three runs came against the Brewers on Feb. 27.
"Treat everything like it's the last outing," Herget said. "Go out and throw, and if I'm lucky enough to get called on, that's awesome. If not, I will go wherever I go and pitch the way I need to pitch." More >
Alvin Toles, Dodgers, LF
Matt Kemp has impressed in his second stint with the Dodgers, but Toles is challenging for at least a share of the playing time in left field. Toles homered Wednesday against the Angels, his second of the spring, and is now hitting .368 in Cactus League play. Another left-field candidate, Joc Pederson, started and went 1-for-3 with a run scored and a strikeout. More >
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.