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Giants 3B Sandoval working to get in better shape

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP)

Pablo Sandoval is ready to put all the chatter about his weight to rest.

Last year's World Series MVP insists he is doing his best to get in tip-top shape, and he's certainly showing he has plenty of range at third base.

Sandoval realizes people will talk about his weight no matter what. It seems to be a nonstop topic lately.

''I feel great,'' he said before Saturday's game against the Cardinals. ''I'm just concentrating on playing my game and to play baseball. If it all goes well, I'll lose weight. For now, I'm just going to concentrate out there. I know my manager is worried about that because he wants me to be a better baseball player. I know all the people say things about my weight because they want me to be the best.''

After spending the spring working on his defense, Kung Fu Panda made several nice plays behind Barry Zito to back a 1-0 win over St. Louis in San Francisco's home opener Friday - including running down a foul popup near the home bullpen.

Sandoval, who hit three home runs in Game 1 of the Giants' four-game World Series sweep against the Tigers last season, had a stomach bug early in spring training and missed 13 games late in the exhibition schedule because of an inflamed nerve and bone spur in his right elbow that limited his fitness and baseball activities.

''He's a little heavier than he should be at this point but he's getting close to where he should be,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said at the start of the series.

Bochy said he left Sandoval in for the entire game Friday because of his strong defense, which included a couple of diving stops on hard grounders.

''He's been playing so well at third base, so I let him stay out there,'' the manager said Saturday. ''I like the way he's moving out there. That will play a part in it, how well he's playing defensively, which he's doing a great job.''

Bochy still plans to insert Joaquin Arias at third as a late-inning replacement on occasion to both give Sandoval a break and keep Arias sharp and involved.

While Saturday was the weekly player weigh-in day, Sandoval sees no need in discussing it.

He will let his defense and bat speak for him.

The 26-year-old Sandoval, listed by the team at 242 pounds, batted .369 in the postseason last year with five doubles, six homers and 13 RBIs. That came after he was benched for four of the five games during the 2010 World Series, when he hit .176 with two RBIs.

During the regular season, he had a .283 batting average with 12 homers and 63 RBIs while limited to 108 games because of a strained left hamstring and a hamate bone fracture in his left hand that required surgery.

The two-time All-Star entered Saturday hitting .214 with a homer and two RBIs this season. He had a run-scoring single in the third inning.

Sandoval is taking as much pride in his play at third.

''Yesterday I was playing different. I was just concentrating to make a play,'' he said. ''I know when Zito's pitching out there I'm going to see more action at third base, so I was ready for everything.

''It's one of those things I concentrated on all spring, working on my defense. It's great. I was ready for the season. I know that I lost two weeks. It's one of those things, I was working out with the trainer and strength and conditioning to do the full work. I wanted to make sure when I came back to play I was ready to play.''

The scrutiny regarding his girth likely won't go away anytime soon, and Sandoval knows it.

''That's just part of it,'' he said.

Tagged: Giants, Pablo Sandoval

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