Players with much at stake this spring

Xander Bogaerts is ready for a prominent role now, but other players have much to prove. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Red Sox have seen enough in Xander Bogaerts to believe that he’s ready now, and the Indians are counting on Danny Salazar, who was so good at the end of last season, to plug a rotation hole.

There are other young players who have more at stake in spring training:

1. Shortstops Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius, Arizona Diamondbacks Theirs will be a good ol’ fashioned showdown for Arizona’s everyday shortstop job, which bears a lot of responsibility considering how the D-backs have loaded up and taken their payroll over $100 million.

Gregorius is the incumbent, coming off a rookie season in which he played decently, but was inconsistent offensively from month to month:


April (seven games): 1.226

May: .799

June: .588

July: .674

August: .513

September: .780

That sort of trend is fairly common among young players as they adapt to the longer season. But the Diamondbacks love the daily energy and preparation that Owings provided after his promotion late last season, and so the staff will go into spring training with eyes wide open. Arizona GM Kevin Towers told Steve Gilbert that the loser of this competition will be sent to Triple-A.

My guess: Gregorius might be the favorite, as Towers told Gilbert, but will need to play well in the spring to win this spot at the outset of the year; Owings might have a slight upper hand in how he’s perceived within the organization.

2. Second baseman Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals.