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Saturday, February 22
Updated: March 13, 12:21 PM ET
Tejada welcomed to camp with open arms

Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Miguel Tejada wants his two children to have a stable education in the United States, and that's why he says he is so anxious to get a long-term commitment from the Oakland Athletics.

Miguel Tejada

Once 3-year-old Alexis starts kindergarten, Tejada doesn't want her to be switching schools.

"I love Oakland. It's a great city,'' said Tejada, who can become a free agent after this season. "I know everybody. It's like a family.''

The reigning American League MVP reported to the A's spring training facility Saturday after being delayed for two days because he was caring for his ill son.

Tejada missed only two full-squad workouts, and manager Ken Macha wasn't too concerned that the star shortstop will be behind, because he had been playing winter ball for his native Dominican Republic.

"Tejada's here!'' someone hollered through the clubhouse when he arrived Saturday morning. He was greeted with several handshakes and hugs as he dressed for his first practice of the spring.

After taking the field to cheers from a couple dozen fans, he ran up to several players to say hello.

"It'll be nice (having him back),'' second baseman Mark Ellis said. "It feels a little different not having him here. He'll be ready. He has a lot of energy and entertainment.''

Tejada's contract status is expected to be a big topic of conversation during spring training. The 26-year-old Tejada has said repeatedly he wants a long-term contract to remain with the A's.

Tejada has not said how much money he will ask for. He made $3.65 million last season and will get $5 million this year.

He hopes to start negotiating a deal soon, but is leaving that to his agent and the A's.

"All I can do is play baseball,'' he said. "I don't worry about my contract. That's something I can do nothing with. I learned how to put it out of my mind.''

Macha has said he will try to keep the contract situation from becoming a distraction.

"The only thing I can control is Miggy going out on the field, and the only thing he can control is getting Miggy out on the field,'' Macha said Saturday.

Ellis isn't worried. He's just anxious to start working with the teammate who plays beside him.

"The enthusiasm he brings to camp is fun to be around,'' Ellis said.

Tejada hit .308 with 34 home runs and 131 RBIs last season to help the A's win 103 games, and he believes he can play even better. The A's lost to the Minnesota Twins in the AL division series, the third straight season Oakland was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. That's one thing Tejada wants to help fix.

He plans to be more of a positive example on the field for the younger players. Macha expects him to be more confident after such a spectacular season.

Tejada had a blast this offseason. He's a celebrity everywhere he goes now back home.

He said he received about 30 trophies and plaques in different towns he visited, many for his participation in charity softball games. He's building some shelves to hold all the hardware.

"This is the most happy I've been,'' he said. "People want to see the MVP. Everywhere I go, when I go to a restaurant, people behind me want to shake my hand, and I say 'Me too.' I'm very happy.''

It would make Tejada even more content if he could buy a house in the Bay area and move his family to the United States for good. Then, he would use the Dominican as a vacation spot.

"For now, I'm going to rent an apartment,'' he said, noting the uncertainty of his future with the club.

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