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Griffin fighting for No. 5 spot despite rookie season

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Prior to the 2012 season, Oakland right-hander A.J. Griffin spent the offseason working at a Nike Store and figuring out how he was going to pay the next month's rent.

Fast forward a year and Griffin is coming off a successful rookie campaign in which he went 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA. Griffin's latest offseason, spent in San Diego, was extremely different and a lot less stressful.

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"It was pretty nice [to] have some piece of mind," Griffin said. "It does bring a sense of confidence, but at the same time you don't want to get overly confident and cocky. You want to respect the game and keep your nose to the grindstone and keep grinding it out. I'm looking forward to getting out there and competing with the guys."

And that's exactly what he will have to do.

Despite the impressive rookie season, which included a start and a no-decision in the American League Division Series, Griffin enters 2013 fighting for a spot in the A's rotation.

Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone and Bartolo Colon (after he serves the remaining five games of his suspension) appear to have secured the first four slots in the rotation. This leaves Griffin and Dan Straily fighting for the fifth and final spot.

The 25-year old Griffin certainly wants to begin the season in Oakland's rotation, but is not going to place any extra emphasis on winning the job this spring. Instead, he is simply going to go out there and play, letting the rest take care of itself.

"[I'll just] focus on the stuff that's under my control, and try to do the best I can every time I go out there," Griffin said. "The pieces will fall where they fall."

In order to help him win that job, Griffin altered his offseason program. It may seem odd for someone coming off a successful season to change his routine, but the A's advised Griffin to give himself a bit more rest, so that's what he did.

Instead of his usual December 15 start, Griffin began his throwing program around the new year and feels ready to go.

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