SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Angel Pagan arrived for the first full-squad workout of spring training with the Giants and made clear he is embracing his new role in left following the addition of Denard Span to take his old job as center fielder and leadoff hitter.
The move initially surprised Pagan, who is entering the final year of a $40 million, four-year contract signed in December 2012.READ MORE: 3 Children Found Stabbed to Death in Los Angeles Apartment; Mother Detained
“Like anybody, when that’s your position and you’re being asked to play a different position, I was surprised, but at the same time Span is a great center fielder,” Pagan said ahead of Tuesday’s first practice at Scottsdale Stadium. “Every player has pride, and you have to sit down and understand at some point you have to make a move. I prepared myself really well for center field and the team asked me to move to left field, I’m on board 100 percent. I’m here to do whatever the team needs me to do.”
Not long after speaking at his clubhouse locker — about five feet from Span’s space — Pagan quickly got to work on Day 1 shagging flies in his new position.
Pagan said he heard from the Giants when they decided to sign Span to a $31 million, three-year contract last month. Pagan has already asked Span to have a sitdown so they can discuss the transition.
“I don’t have any hard feelings. I want him to know I’m on board,” said Pagan, who recently welcomed his third daughter. “I’m just being unselfish. I feel ready for any role on the team.”
In addition, Pagan believes playing left could keep him on the field for more games, given there could be less wear and tear on his body after recent years of injuries. He last played left field in 27 games for the Mets during 2010.
Once Span joined the club, Pagan met with his family to “accept it and move on.”
He will work to learn the routes and figure out how to manage the large tarp rolled and stored in foul territory that can be a tricky obstacle. There are also the challenging line drives by a left-handed hitter that can curve toward the baseline.READ MORE: Report: Marin County Residents Healthiest in California
“My legs are fine, I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I worked really hard this offseason to help this team win. To me that’s the main goal, to help this team reach another championship. That’s what we’re all here for. I’m ready to do it.”
The 34-year-old Pagan returned from back surgery last season to hit .262 with 21 doubles, three homer and 37 RBIs in 133 games. He played in only 96 games during the 2014 World Series run and 71 in 2013 because he was hurt.
Pagan received an injection in his right knee to break up scar tissue and also has improved the flexibility in his legs that he said limited him being able to reach the gaps when hitting last year.
“I think it could benefit him as far as keeping him healthier,” manager Bruce Bochy said of the position switch. “I’m hoping he looks at this as a chance to get more at-bats.”
Span hit .301 with five homers, 22 RBIs and a .365 on-base percentage in 61 games last season for Washington. He missed time with injuries to his back, left hip and right core but is full speed now.
Span, who turns 32 on Saturday, hardly seems concerned about making things work alongside Pagan in the Giants’ expansive outfield at AT&T Park. Durable right fielder Hunter Pence figures to be on his other side.
“I’m not here to take his job,” Span said Tuesday. “We’ve all got to work together. We’re trying to go for another championship, another ring here, it’s going to take all of us. I’m going to need him, I’m going to need Hunter. We’re going to need each other in order to accomplish that. I think he’ll be fine. We’ve chatted a little bit and I think we’re going to chat further.”
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