The Giants rode inspirational clubhouse speeches to a championship in 2012. While floundering in their bid for a repeat, several veterans took the same tact to set the stage for a player who might be the key to this season's title hopes.

A slimmer, more muscular Pablo Sandoval showed off increased range and quickness on a back field at Scottsdale Stadium on Saturday, and afterward said his dramatic offseason weight loss stemmed largely from messages delivered by teammates Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Marco Scutaro and Matt Cain.

"I had to take (their words) seriously because it wasn't one person telling me, it was my team telling me they know what kind of player I am," Sandoval said. "They know that what I was in 2011, the way that I was, that I did a great job out there. There was concern (since then) with the gaining weight, but I put it in my mind that I need to grow up, that I need to take my job seriously.

"That's what I did."

Sandoval wouldn't divulge his weight, but the Giants don't care much about the specifics, anyway; they were simply pleased with the way he's moving. "He's a new man," one coach bellowed as Sandoval sprung to his right to snag a grounder during an early workout.

Posey, whose locker is next to Sandoval's, said the third baseman "looked great."

"With Pablo, you know how much potential he has when he is in good shape," Posey said. "You know what kind of damage he can do. The proof is in what kind of numbers he puts up when he's in shape."

Those numbers actually weren't bad a year ago, even as the 27-year-old was said to have drifted above 280 pounds. Sandoval had a .341 on-base percentage, homered 14 times and posted an OPS of .758, the fourth-highest mark among National League third basemen.

Still, the Giants have come to expect much, much more from a World Series MVP and two-time All-Star. Sandoval was just 22 years old during his first full season in the majors and hit .330 with 25 homers and 90 RBIs.