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 4½ 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 winner."
"Papi!" San Francisco left fielder Pat Burrell hollered at Tejada as he walked through the clubhouse.
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 Stadium.
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.
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.
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 last year."
He plans to help them keep it. After ending a six-year playoff drought, San Francisco hopes it will be a regular contender again.
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.
"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."