Spring training position battles

A daily rundown of the MLB competitions for playing time in March and April

Updated: March 18, 2010, 5:10 PM ET
By and Doug Mittler | ESPN Insider

Cincinnati Reds: Fifth starter

Another strong outing for Chapman: Are the Reds merely postponing the inevitable by not proclaiming Aroldis Chapman as their fifth starter? In his third outing and first start of the spring, Chapman allowed one run and struck out five over three innings in the Reds' 5-2 loss to the Brewers on Wednesday.

Outside the organization, it looks like a no-brainer. "He's their best pitcher," a National League scout told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "How can they think about starting him in the minors?"

The competition for the final rotation spot was reduced by one when Mike Lincoln was sent to the bullpen, leaving Micah Owings, Travis Wood, Justin Lehr and Matt Maloney. Like Chapman, Wood and 2009 first-round pick Mike Leake also are having strong springs.

"We're starting to narrow it down," manager Dusty Baker said via MLB.com. "We're going back to have some meetings and try and determine who is who."