SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -As Aaron Rowand watched from a folding chair on a back field while his Giants teammates took their swings, it sure looked like he'd been around them for years.
It's been only days, actually. Yet San Francisco's new center fielder is already a hit. He made a positive impression the very day he signed back in December - that's how strong his reputation is around baseball.
And he beat all the veteran position players to spring training by more than a week.
``It's great,'' Rowand said. ``I met a lot of guys in San Francisco for Fan Fest. I'm getting to know them. I like to get here early and get settled in. It's going to be fun. It's a good clubhouse.''
He will be counted on to help change the clubhouse ``culture,'' as manager Bruce Bochy puts it. And Rowand is eager to take on that challenge in the post-Barry Bonds era in San Francisco, where he was thrilled to get some long-term stability while also providing the Giants with it.
s locker, hollered toward infielder Kevin Frandsen on Saturday morning.
Nobody in the Giants' brass is surprised by the center fielder's immediate impact.
``I think Aaron's the type of player who wants to do all he can not just on the field but working with his teammates or with young players to bring a club together to accomplish what they want to,'' Bochy said. ``He likes to assume the responsibility of being one of the guys to pull all the guys together.''
Rowand, who received a $60 million, five-year contract, obliged when one autograph hound called out his name after he was done on the field Wednesday.
``What's up, A.?'' bench coach Ron Wotus said Saturday in the main hallway at Scottsdale Stadium.
``Hey, Row,'' added third base coach Tim Flannery.
``What's happening, fellas?'' Rowand replied.
Frandsen, for one, is used to being the early bird at the ballpark. Now he's got some competition from the 30-year-old Rowand, a first-time All-Star and NL Gold Glove winner last season for the NL East champion Phillies. He played in Philadelphia the past two years after spending his first five major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox.
On Tuesday - a day before even pitchers and catchers were due to report to the desert - Rowand was out taking flyballs with Nate Schierholtz.
' Frandsen said. ``He shows up early. That's his style. We were talking about our game-day preparation. I felt I was one of the first ones (to arrive) in recent years. He might trump me.
``He's got a different mentality for a big-name guy. It's very apparent from what he does. He's not trying to set a precedent. He is what he's always been.''
Bochy is planning to use Rowand in the No. 5 hole of the batting order, behind new cleanup hitter Bengie Molina, who's in Bonds' old spot.
Rowand batted .309 with 27 home runs and career bests of 89 RBIs, 105 runs, 189 hits and 45 doubles in 161 games last year. The Giants got him without having to give up one of their top pitchers such as Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum, something that was a focus for the franchise this winter.
``He walks the walk,'' general manager Brian Sabean said. ``He said he was going to be as outgoing as he possibly could. He's still a young guy, too, so that's what's interesting. While he's had a lot of great baseball experience, we liked him for his love of the game, his respect for the game.''
Rowand is upbeat about the Giants' chances despite the fact they haven't reached the playoffs since 2003, are playing in the highly competitive NL West and don't have much power to speak of following the departure of 43-year-old home run king Bonds.
``We're going to surprise some people,'' Rowand said.
For San Francisco's young but talented pitching staff, having Molina behind the plate, 11-time Gold Glover Omar Vizquel at shortstop and Rowand all lining up in the middle of the field, they know the defense should be solid.
``I hope everything gets run down. I'm pretty sure if it gets hit to center, Aaron's going to run it down,'' Cain said. ``The times we've seen him, he's unreal. There's nothing better than having a guy up the middle who can take charge. We've seen that. That's just the way he plays.''

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