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Spring Training position battle roundup

Mets' Nimmo pushing for leadoff role; Dodgers' Kemp slugs 3rd homer
MLB.com

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 Monday's action:

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 Monday's action:

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Brandon Nimmo, Mets, OF
Nimmo is quickly making a strong case for playing time at the Mets' leadoff spot with an impressive performance this spring. The 24-year-old is batting .389 (7-for-18) with four extra-base hits and five RBIs through seven spring games. Nimmo started 43 games for the Mets last season, eight of them as the leadoff hitter.

"They're just looking for someone who is going to try and find good pitches to hit, and kind of set a tone for the game," Nimmo said. "I hope to be that person." More >

Matt Kemp, Dodgers, OF
Kemp clubbed his third home run of spring Monday and looks like the leading contender for the Dodgers' left-field job. Kemp is batting .313 in Cactus League play. Another candidate for the job, Alex Verdugo, also homered Monday. More >

Video: 30 Clubs in 30 Days: Kemp on being back with Dodgers

A.J. Reed, Astros, 1B
Yuli Gurriel's left hand injury has opened up an opportunity at first base to begin the year. Gurriel is expected to miss the first couple of weeks of the regular season, leaving Reed, Tyler White and J.D. Davis competing for the job. Reed made an impression Monday, coming off the bench against the Marlins to hit his first home run of spring. Davis started at first and batted 1-for-3, while White started at second and went 0-for-2. More >

Danny Santana, Braves, OF
Santana was removed from the Braves' 40-man roster this offseason, but the 27-year-old is making noise in camp as a candidate for Atlanta's bench. Santana went 4-for-4 and homered in the Braves' 7-5 win over the Pirates in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Monday. He's turned heads by batting 10-for-21 with three extra-base hits through eight games. More >

Video: PIT@ATL: Santana makes scoop for a running catch

Dillon Peters, Marlins, LHP
Peters' bid for a spot in the back end of Miami's bullpen took a hit Monday, as he struggled for the second consecutive outing. He went 1 1/3 innings against the Astros, allowing one run and walking three batters. Peters -- the Marlins' No. 15 prospect, per MLB Pipeline -- walked four batters on Wednesday in his previous appearance. More >

Patrick Kivlehan, Reds, INF/OF
Kivlehan went 0-for-2 against the Angels on Monday and is now batting just 2-for-15 in Cactus League play. The 28-year-old is competing as a non-roster player this spring after some success as a bench bat in 2017. He led the Reds with nine pinch-hits and 57 pinch-hit at-bats while slugging nine home runs last season. More >

Mark Leiter, Phillies, RHP
Leiter turned in a strong outing Monday, striking out two across three perfect frames against the Twins in Clearwater, Fla. He's yet to allow a run through three appearances (seven innings) this spring as he competes for a job in Philadelphia's rotation. If Leiter can't crack the Phillies' starting five, however, he's a good bet to make the Opening Day bullpen. More >

Video: Leiter talks learning to be a better pitcher

Tyson Ross, Padres, RHP
After a year away with the Rangers, Ross is back in camp with the Padres and on track to claim a one of the club's three available rotation spots. Ross, an All-Star with San Diego in 2014, is expected to be stretched out to five innings over his next few outings.

"He's definitely on the right path," manager Andy Green said. More >

Tyler Kinley, Twins, RHP
Despite allowing an unearned run and walking a batter, Kinley pitched well Monday, earning praise from Twins skipper Paul Molitor. The Rule 5 reliever's fastball reached 99 mph, and he threw 12 of his 16 pitches for strikes. More >

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

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