SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- If anyone can keep Pablo Sandoval in shape and on the field during the upcoming season, it is veteran shortstop Miguel Tejada.
Tejada, who spent the winter working out with Angels shortstop Erick Aybar in the Dominican Republic, said he hopes to hit the gym with Sandoval every morning during the regular season. Aybar, who was slowed last season by a groin injury and an injured left knee, said Tejada's workouts are a big reason why he showed up to Spring Training in great shape.
"Erick is a good man, a really strong player," Tejada said. "I really believe this is going to be his year because I saw how hard he worked. It's going to be a tremendous year for him. I know Pablo can do the same."
For his part, Sandoval, who now reportedly weighs 240 pounds, said he is eager to learn from Tejada. He spent several minutes chatting with the veteran during Monday's workout.
"It's incredible to have a person like Miguel Tejada on this team," Sandoval, 24, said. "From the very first day he got here, he has been helping all of us young players. It's very motivating because he has the experience we all want."
Tejada, 37, leads by example. He played in a combined 156 games last season for Baltimore and San Diego and played in 158 games in each of the two previous seasons while with Houston. He suited up for l62 games from 2001 to 2006. In 2000, he played in 160 games.
"My goal is to stay healthy; that's what I need for things to work out for me," Tejada said. "My bat and my glove will be there. I just have to stay healthy and I worked for that this winter."
Tejada's winters are usually busy. Known as the "patriot player" in the Dominican Republic because he returns to play winter ball on the island almost every year, Tejada is a baseball hero in Caribbean baseball circles. In fact, next year's Caribbean Series, which will be held in the Dominican Republic, will be dedicated to Tejada.
"I'm really proud of everything I've been able to accomplish for my country in the Caribbean Series, and obviously, it is a real honor to have my name associated with it," Tejada said. "When you think of all the great players that have played in Caribbean Series and to have such a big event dedicated to you is very special."
Throwing session goes well for Wilson
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brian Wilson's stiff back is feeling better and he is on schedule to face live hitters this week.
On Monday, the All-Star closer threw a bullpen session, his second session in three days, and afterward said he could pitch against hitters when he takes the mound Wednesday or Friday. Giants manager Bruce Bochy wants to see how Wilson's back responds Tuesday before he makes a decision on the next step and added that he has plenty of time to get Wilson ready for the season.
Wilson, who has been slowed by the sore back this spring, also played catch Sunday.
"It was a standard 'pen. It felt good coming out of the hand, a little bit of whip action," Wilson said "Good range of motion and everything is fine. Obviously, it's Spring Training so we are taking everything slow. There is no rush. We did just win a World Series like a week ago."
On a serious note, Wilson said he'll pay extra attention to his back and his stretching exercises and might have to tone down some of the conditioning exercises that impact the area.
"It's not going to be a problem. Let's put it that way," he said. "It's more opportunity to get stronger."
Technically speaking, Wilson did face one hitter Monday. Bochy stood in the batter's box during the pitcher's bullpen session.
"You realize that you are older and you can't get out of the way like you would like to," a smiling Bochy said. "With [Wilson] throwing, I just want to make sure I do [move] if it's heading my way. But he's got great control. I had confidence that he wasn't going to hit me."
A jovial Wilson described the experience as "intimidating."
"He knows that any pitch I can take him deep," Bochy joked. "I did have a bat in my hands."
Giants eager to begin Spring Training games
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants will kick off Cactus League play Friday against the D-backs at Scottsdale Stadium, and manager Bruce Bochy can already sense the anticipation among his players.
"I think they are just excited to be back here," Bochy said "They had a great year last year, had a great time together. They enjoy playing together. They are excited to be back on the field."
This weekend, the Giants will host the Dodgers on Saturday and visit the D-backs on Sunday. On Thursday, the club will play an intrasquad game. First baseman/left fielder Brandon Belt will likely play in that game, Bochy said.
The manager added that backup catcher Eli Whiteside, who has been out of action because of a sore right elbow, "will need a couple of days."