But life has a way of throwing you curves, and Quinlan always has had a knack for hanging tough and driving those pitches.
"I thought we were pretty close to signing with the Twins," said St. Paul, Minn., native Quinlan, an Angels role player for seven seasons. "But then they signed [Jim] Thome, and basically they pulled out."
Overtures to Joe Speed, Quinlan's agent, came from the Dodgers and Rockies, clubs that could have used his multiple skills and right-handed bat off the bench. But they also moved in different directions.
"The Angels kind of came into the picture, and we didn't think that was going to happen," Quinlan said. "There had been no talk at all with them. I'd figured on the Dodgers or Rockies at that point, but we started talking to the Angels again.
"At the end of the day, I felt like coming back here. I like the organization, the guys. It's always nice to come back where you're familiar with the surroundings."
Quinlan, who will be 33 on March 17, is in competition with about a half-dozen other candidates for four or five roster spots. The number of openings hinges on whether Angels manager Mike Scioscia decides to keep 11 or 12 pitchers to open the season.
Quinlan's career stats
Among the candidates in pursuit of a job is Reggie Willits, who has acquired an appreciation for Quinlan's talents and temperament as a part-timer the past two seasons following a superb rookie year in 2007.
"Q is a really good player," Willits said. "A lot of people don't realize how valuable a player he is. He can play infield, outfield, all four corner spots. He might not be a Gold Glover, but he's able to get the job done. He's going to be around a long time because of his versatility."
A .281 career hitter in 1,079 at-bats, Quinlan certainly hopes Willits is on the money.
After crushing the ball all spring last season, Quinlan had only 13 at-bats in the first month. He made 31 starts in 2009, batting .243 with two homers and 14 RBIs in 115 at-bats.
It was the fourth consecutive season his at-bats had decreased after a career-best 2006, when he batted .321 with nine homers and 32 RBIs in 234 at-bats.
"I know what to expect, what I've got to do," Quinlan said. "I'm excited to be back, looking forward to a good spring.
"I have the same attitude I've had the last five years -- do what I can do and not worry about what's going to happen. I've learned that so many things can change. I'm at a point where I just want to play baseball and have some fun."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.