A demotion is defined as “a reduction in grade, rank or status.”
In baseball, this can mean a starter who is moved to the bench or bullpen, a reduction in playing time or even a move to the minors.
Players who reach star status very rarely stay there for their entire careers. Age, injuries, decreased production and younger competition can all factor into a change in a player's status.
Spring training can be a difficult time for players who are on the cusp, especially when other guys are breathing down their necks.
Some may survive spring, but get bumped after the season starts if their performance declines.
The following is a list of 10 players who may be in danger of being demoted from their usual roles.
After an awful year with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009, the Giants took a chance on Pat Burrell last year. The gamble paid off as Burrell helped power the Giants into the 2010 playoffs.
But in 2011, the Giants have a plethora of outfielders at their disposal.
With Andres Torres and Cody Ross in center and right, there will be some competition in left. Both Aaron Rowand and Mark DeRosa will be looking for playing time.
Rowand is not having a great spring, but DeRosa is batting .306. And Burrell has developed a reputation over the years of alternating good and bad seasons. 2009 was bad; 2010 was good. If the pattern continues, Burrell may be in trouble.
Either way, if Burrell falters, there are guys like DeRosa waiting in the wings.
A 12-year veteran and two-time All-Star, Freddy Garcia is currently competing for a starting spot in the Yankees rotation. Both he and fellow veteran Bartolo Colon signed minor league contracts in the hopes of a comeback.
But while Colon and rookie Ivan Nova have been doing well this spring, Garcia is not. In his last outing, Garcia allowed four runs in less than three innings against the Twins.
Not only is Garcia in danger of a demotion to the bullpen, he may not even make the team. And Garcia has already said he will not accept a minor league assignment.
Nova has been spectacular and has a 1.29 ERA over 14 innings this spring. If Garcia cannot recover, he may find himself out of a job.
Todd Helton has had a storybook career with the Rockies, winning multiple awards and five All-Star nods.
But at age 37, Helton is showing signs of wear.
In 2010, Helton posted a career-worst .256 average and his strikeout rate soared to 22.6 percent. His fielding suffered as well, as Helton committed eight errors in 155 games.
Nipping at Helton’s heels is Ty Wigginton, who can play first, second, third, right field and left field. Both players are having good springs, but Wigginton has the power at the plate that Helton seems to have lost.
The Rockies will probably start the season with Helton as the starter at first, but they will not wait long to move him to the bench if he starts to decline.
Carlos Beltran’s six years as a Met have been an adventure. Plagued by injuries and a controversial offseason surgery before the season, 2010 was a bad year for Beltran.
This spring, Beltran has already run into trouble.
Earlier this week, he received a cortisone injection for tendonitis in his knee. And while a player will usually not lose his job due to injury, Beltran’s lackluster performance when healthy may play a role as well.
The Mets have some options should Beltran not produce as expected. The young Lucas Duda, utility men Fernando Martinez and Scott Hairston, plus Willie Harris are all capable of manning Beltran's spot in the outfield.
With the recent dismissal of Luis Castillo, the Mets have shown they are not afraid to eat some payroll if a player is not working out.
Beltran needs to read the writing on the wall and shape up.
Brad Lidge was a superstar in 2008, when he saved every game he had the opportunity to. The 41-41 record helped propel the Phillies to a World Series victory.
But Lidge’s career has been riddled with injuries, especially since the 2008 championship.
This spring, Lidge was shut down again, this time for bicep tendonitis. While the injury does not seem serious now, the pattern that has been developing is alarming.
The past few years, the Phillies did not have many options outside of Lidge in the closer role. But this year, Ryan Madson appears to be ready to handle the job if needed.
Madson struggled previously when closing in place of an injured Lidge. But those experiences and a new mental approach have Madson confident he can do the job.
If Lidge continues to struggle with his command, speed and overall health, Madson could move from setup man to closer.
With his age and previous injuries weighing on the minds of the Cubs staff, there have been some questions about how Alfonso Soriano will perform this year. At 35 years old, this former superstar will be looking to keep his starting job in left field.
This spring, Soriano is hitting only .244 and having some issues getting on base. But spring is not always a good indicator of performance, especially with veteran players.
The younger players, however, are looking to make an impression.
Tyler Colvin, 25, is one of them. So far this spring, Colvin has been good, hitting .277. In his rookie season with the Cubs in 2010, Colvin smacked 20 homers and showed that he is deserving of a starting role.
If Soriano begins to show his age, he may find himself relegated to either a platoon situation or a bench player.
His $18 million salary will be a consideration as well, but if the Cubs want to win, they will have to do what is best for the team, not just what is best for the finances.
After 18 years in the majors, veteran pitcher Tim Wakefield is in a tough spot. In just under 10 innings this spring, Wakefield has allowed eight runs, posting a 7.45 ERA.
2010 was not a great year for Wakefield, either.
He ended up with a 4-10 record, 5.34 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. At the start of this spring, most expected Wakefield to enter 2011 in the bullpen.
However, with recent events, it is possible that Wakefield may not even make the team. When manager Terry Francona was recently asked about the status of Wakefield, he did not give an answer.
This may not be good news for Wakefield.
This week, the White Sox announced that Matt Thornton will start the season as their closer.
In the same breath, manager Ozzie Guillen told Thornton that he may wind up sharing the closing duties in certain situations.
So while Thornton technically has the job, this revelation from his manager may not breed confidence.
Thornton’s primary competition was rookie Chris Sale, a lefty who is still struggling with control issues. This should change as Sale gets more experience.
With that in mind, Thornton will need to be mindful that if he falters, there is a rookie lying in wait.
Known for his power at the plate, 13-year veteran Russell Branyan is trying to lock down the first-base starting position for the D-Backs. He signed a minor league deal this offseason with an invitation to spring training.
But while Branyan can bring the power, he rarely hits for average, which may hurt his chances. Plus, both Juan Miranda and Brandon Allen are trying to lock up the same spot on the roster.
Miranda is off to a great start, too. He has smashed three homers, two doubles and is hitting .297 this spring. Allen is also impressive, hitting .341 so far.
So while Branyan has the experience, he may find himself either on the bench or in the minors if the youngsters outplay him.