As Chris Turner's eighth-inning home run sailed over the Tempe Diablo Stadium fence Tuesday to give the Angels another Cactus League victory, pitcher Chuck Finley sat in the clubhouse and marveled at the lineup the Angels have assembled around him.
"This team has the capacity to make you believe quicker than Billy Graham," said Finley, who allowed one run in four innings of the Angels' 3-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
"A lot of guys had great seasons last year, but if they only have steady seasons this year, we're still going to be tough to beat. We were kidding [third baseman Tim] Wallach the other day. He has the potential to hit 20 home runs, and he can only hit seventh or eighth in this lineup."
Finley attributes the Angels' spring-training success--they improved to 13-1-1 Tuesday--to the fact they entered camp with a more established lineup.
"In past years we came in with a lot of questions and uncertainties," Finley said. "It was like, 'If this guy does this, if this guy is healthy . . . ' But we're set at just about every position, so guys can relax a little bit and concentrate more on getting ready instead of winning jobs."
Turner, a catcher who played last season at triple-A Vancouver, is not one of those who can afford to relax. He's battling Jorge Fabregas, Don Slaught and Ron Tingley for a roster spot and enhanced his chances Tuesday with his second home run in the past two games.
Manager Marcel Lachemann hasn't decided whether he'll carry two or three catchers on the 25-man roster, but if he goes with three, he said one would have to be versatile enough to play several positions.
This helps Turner, 27, who built a batting cage this winter in a warehouse near his home in Bowling Green, Ky.
"I think I'm too young to accept being a utility guy, but if it's going to help the team win, I'd do it," said Turner, who is batting .364. "I've got to get on the team and do something right to be an everyday player."
Outfielder Darin Erstad and catcher Todd Greene, the top two prospects in the Angels' farm system, were among 22 players reassigned to the team's minor league camp Tuesday.
Reliever Mark Williamson, who appeared in three games this spring, was released, and outfielder Ralph Bryant was offered a player/coach position in the minor leagues, reducing the number of players in camp to 45.
Also sent to the minors were pitchers Ryan Hancock, Mike Holtz, Geoff Edsell, Pep Harris, Pete Janicki, Shad Williams, Mike Freehill, David Holdridge and Jeff Schmidt, infielders Brian Grebeck, P.J. Forbes, Ty Van Burkleo, Jamie Burke, Tim Harkrider and Keith Luuloa, outfielders Jovino Carvajal, Marquis Riley and Emmitt Cohick, and catchers John Orton and Fausto Tejero.
Lachemann said reliever Bryan Harvey, who is recovering from last May's reconstructive elbow surgery, is "a longshot" to make the active opening-day roster. The Angels hoped Harvey could pitch by this week, but it's doubtful he'll see spring training action. "It's not really a setback," Lachemann said. "I just think we were overly optimistic in terms of what the timetable [for recovery] really is." . . . Third baseman Eduardo Perez, who hasn't played this spring because of a shoulder injury, probably will open the season on the disabled list. . . . First baseman Chris Pritchett was so sure he'd be reassigned that he made plans to play golf Tuesday. But Pritchett, who is hitting .429 with three home runs, surprisingly survived the first cuts.