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Villalona ready to focus on baseball, not past


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- First baseman Angel Villalona reported to camp Friday, bent on putting his controversial past behind him.

"The one thing I can say is I'm here to play, to give my all and to get back to playing baseball," the 22-year-old Villalona said through a Giants media relations official acting as an interpreter.

The Giants signed Villalona with a then-club record $2.1 million bonus in 2006. The 16-year-old was said to have prodigious power, and Felipe Alou compared him to Andres Galarraga in terms of slugging potential .

While playing for Class A San Jose in Sept. 2009, an injured Villalona returned home to the Dominican Republic to visit his family. A fatal shooting at a nightclub resulted in Villalona's arrest. He reportedly paid the victim's family $139,000 before charges were dropped for a lack of evidence.

Asked to address what happened on the night of the shooting, Villalona said, "I'd rather not talk about it. I'd rather just concentrate on playing baseball."

Villalona said that he trimmed 40 pounds, from 290 to 250, to prepare for Major League camp. His most recent baseball activity was a 44-game stint in the Dominican Summer League last year, when he hit .303 with seven homers and 34 RBIs in 44 games.

"I played very hard, but I am aware that here is a totally different type of baseball," Villalona said. "I know I have to work double because of the competition."

Manager Bruce Bochy sounded ready to welcome Villalona.

"I know it's been a long journey for him," Bochy said. "From what I gather, he has really rededicated himself and is excited about getting another opportunity."

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