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March 7, 2014

Painting the Black

Spring Flings

by R.J. Anderson


With the first week of the exhibition season in the books, teams now have less than a month before their Opening Day rosters are due. Most clubs have an open spot or two up for grabs, typically in the bullpen or off the bench, but a few are staging auditions of greater importance this spring. Here are 10 intriguing positional battles along with a prediction of who we believe ought to win the jobs.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Shortstop
Didi Gregorius vs. Chris Owings
Gregorius, the prize of the Trevor Bauer trade, opens his sophomore season in Arizona with his second spring competition. Last season he started hot then stalled around midseason, batting just .207/.314/.314 after the All-Star break. Once September rolled around the D'Backs split playing time between the young shortstops, with Owings providing an offensive spark.

Who should win? Owings. Gregorius' second-half fade obscures his status as a decent starting option. Despite the offensive struggles, he remained a solid defender who performed fairly against right-handed pitching. Still, Owings profiles as the better hitter—even if PECOTA suggests otherwise—and possesses enough defensive ability to avoid giving the advantage back in the field. Kevin Towers has made overtures about a potential shortstop-for-catcher trade this spring, so whoever finishes second could be on his way out of town.

Baltimore Orioles, Second Base
Ryan Flaherty vs. Jonathan Schoop vs. Jemile Weeks
After losing Brian Roberts to free agency, and failing to close a trade for Daniel Murphy, the Orioles will turn to an unproven talent to fill their second-base hole.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Raising Aces: Over the... (03/07)
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Pebble Hunting: Billy ... (03/07)

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