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Giants’ Pablo Sandoval plays as he gets into shape

Sun., April 7, 2013, midnight

SAN FRANCISCO – 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.

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.

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