Tejada eager to get started as new man with Giants
Miguel Tejada got an immediate glimpse of the hype surrounding
his new team when a camera crew filmed the shortstop just sitting
at his locker preparing to go outside and hit.
Tejada is one of few fresh faces around the World Series
champion San Francisco Giants, whose roster remains nearly intact
from last fall’s improbable title run.
Tejada reported to spring training Friday thrilled to put on his
new uniform and finally take the field. He saw the Giants from the
other side 4 1/2 months ago, as part of the San Diego Padres team
eliminated from playoff contention on the season’s final day at
AT&T Park. He watched on television as the Giants won their
first championship since 1954 and first since moving West to San
Francisco in 1958.
Now, Tejada wants to help San Francisco defend its NL West crown
and make another deep October postseason run.
”I’m the new guy,” Tejada said with a smile. ”It’s pretty
cool. I’m really honored and thank the San Francisco Giants for
choosing me to be the guy to help them repeat. From the first day
of spring training, we’re thinking about winning. I’m a
Closer Brian Wilson stopped by Tejada’s locker and offered a
hello handshake. Once outside, Tejada – appearing as fit as ever at
age 36 after another winter of tough workouts – signed autographs
for a small section of fans watching pitchers warm up at Scottsdale
”He looks strong,” reliever Santiago Casilla said.
Hall of Famer Willie Mays was around Friday and signed a table
near Tejada’s locker.
He may be the new guy, but the Giants know plenty about Tejada,
too. A 14-year big league veteran, he won the 2002 AL MVP across
San Francisco Bay with the Oakland Athletics.
”He’s great,” said pitcher Barry Zito, who won the AL Cy Young
Award in 2002 with Oakland.
Giants general manager Brian Sabean has said he long admired
Tejada, dating to the shortstop’s days as a fan favorite with the
A’s. Tejada received a $6.5 million, one-year free agent deal in
December to join San Francisco.
The Giants will hold their first full-squad spring practice
”He seems very excited to be here,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
”He’s got so much energy. He’s looking forward to getting out
there and getting after it tomorrow.”
Tejada played 156 games last season with Baltimore and San
Diego, batting .269 with 15 home runs, 26 doubles and 71 RBIs. He
had an on-base percentage of .312 and slugged .381.
The Padres declined to offer Tejada salary arbitration.
He knows a fresh start with the reigning champs isn’t a bad
fallback. Returning to the Bay Area where he was so welcomed and
loved had huge appeal when the Giants pursued him this winter.
”It feels real,” Tejada said Friday morning, pulling out all
his new black and orange gear. ”I’ve been waiting the whole
offseason for the moment to come to spring training. Everybody back
home said, ‘Miguel, you’re going to be a champion.’ It’s a great
opportunity. I can’t wait to take the field.”
Tejada returned home to the Dominican Republic after San Diego’s
elimination in October and quickly was asked by reporters who he
picked to win the World Series.
His response: the Giants. It was a bold call, San Francisco over
the favored Philadelphia Phillies to win it all.
Tejada spent 59 games with the Padres after being traded to San
Diego by Baltimore last year right before the deadline.
”I played a lot against the Giants,” Tejada said. ”I could
see how they were. They had the pitching. They had the momentum
He plans to help them keep it. After ending a six-year playoff
drought, San Francisco hopes it will be a regular contender
Tejada realizes full well he is here to replace departed World
Series MVP Edgar Renteria, who struggled through injuries all of
2010 only to emerge as an unlikely postseason star. The Giants also
lost utility infielder Juan Uribe to the rival Dodgers.
The Giants feel like they have a good fit in Tejada to fill the
void. No doubt he’s durable.
Tejada played all 162 games for six straight seasons from 2001
through 2006. He played 158 games in both 2008 and ’09, then the
156 last year. While Bochy said it’s ”nice to have that luxury,”
the skipper plans to be careful not to overwork Tejada.
”It will be fun to see,” Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt said.
”He brings energy to the clubhouse, to the game. When you’re
playing against him, you know he cares about his job. He’s got a
pretty good resume he brings with him. We lost Uribe, who is an
excitable player. To get somebody with that excitement and energy
back, it’s great.”
Notes: Wilson, nursing a tight back, played light catch on a
back field. Bochy said it’s doubtful last season’s major league
saves leader will throw off a mound Saturday. ”He’s made a lot of
progress,” Bochy said. In fact, Wilson reached down to touch his
toes as a way of showing he’s fine. ”Nobody runs in cleats in the
offseason,” he said. ”It happens every spring training, a little
tightness here and there, it’s part of being an athlete. I’ll be
out there tomorrow.” … Backup C Eli Whiteside underwent an MRI
exam Friday and was being examined after experiencing tenderness in
his right elbow.