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."