Although spring training is still in its early stages, when pickoff plays are the highlight of the day, right-hander Joe Grahe doesn't mind the daily routine.
"I'm having a lot more fun this year than last year," Grahe said. "It wasn't a very fun six weeks last year."
Competing against Scott Lewis last spring for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, Grahe endured a nerve-racking and unsuccessful race. He began the season with triple-A Edmonton, remaining there until June and returning for another stint before being recalled again on Aug. 5.
This year, largely on the strength of his performances in his last few 1991 starts, Grahe has been virtually guaranteed the fourth spot in the rotation, behind Jim Abbott, Chuck Finley and Mark Langston. That security enables him to enjoy moments that last spring put him on edge.
"I'm much more relaxed and confident, but I take absolutely nothing for granted," Grahe said Monday, not long before he agreed to a one-year contract that will pay him $125,000 plus incentives.
"Any time, until you're able to put together a full season, you've got something to prove," Grahe added. "I'd like to put together a consistent, solid season and work from there."
Infielder Luis Sojo was the only unsigned player Monday, but Angel Senior Vice President Dan O'Brien said he expected to reach an agreement that would avert a renewal of Sojo's contract.
Continuing his recuperation from surgery on his left big toe, Finley threw off a mound for about 10 minutes. "Every day it gets better and better," he said. "At least that's what I keep telling myself. My arm strength is coming. My main concern was my foot, and that's a little further than I thought it would be."