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Sharing a name and a purpose

Sharing a name, purpose

PEORIA, Ariz. -- There doesn't appear to be much of a rivalry between these siblings. When the Giles brothers, Brian and Marcus, raise their arms, it's for hugs, not punches.

"He's a great person to try to emulate and be like," Marcus, Brian's new teammate and locker mate, said at the San Diego Padres' Spring Training facility.

"I'd always watch him growing up, being seven years younger, being on the road with him. He kind of made my decision to want to be a baseball player.

"A lot of times, brothers fight. We never really did that. We've pretty much been best friends all our lives, hanging out, getting along."

While Brian, 36, is cool and self-contained, Marcus, 28, is animated, more excitable. They're constructed the same -- thin at the waist, broad in the shoulders, powerful lower bodies -- on similar frames. Brian, at 5-foot-10, rises two inches taller than Marcus and is about 25 pounds heavier at 205.

Their features are strikingly similar, as well. The only visible differences are the blond highlights in Brian's hair and his darker complexion.

"He could sleep in the woods, and he doesn't tan," Brian said. "Those are probably the two biggest differences between us."

Asked if he and his brother have more similarities or dissimilarities, Marcus responded in characteristic Giles fashion.

"I'll say dissimilarities -- hopefully," Marcus said.

One thing they share in common is All-Star experience, but even then, they weren't teammates. Brian made it in 2000 and 2001, Marcus in 2003.

They're the third set of All-Star brothers (pitchers excluded) to ever appear in the same lineup, joining Roberto and Sandy Alomar with Cleveland (1999-2000) and Lloyd and Paul Waner (1927-40) in Pittsburgh.

In their formative years in El Cajon, east of San Diego, they never were teammates, given the age gap.

"Maybe Wiffle ball in the backyard," Marcus said. "That's about it."

After six seasons in Atlanta, Marcus was made available as a free agent over the winter. The Padres, having dealt Josh Barfield to Cleveland for Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andrew Brown, seized the initiative and signed the second baseman.

A .285 career hitter, Marcus fell to .262 with 11 homers, 60 RBIs and 87 runs scored. He had 10 steals -- his career high is 17 -- and projects as the No. 2 hitter in new manager Bud Black's lineup, right in front of Brian.

Brian was quick to point out how "freak injuries" -- notably a chipped bone in his left middle finger -- hindered Marcus last season. In Giles fashion, Marcus shied away from using it as an excuse.

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Signed for $3.2 million with incentives that could take his '07 contract to $4.25 million -- the club holds a $4.2 million option for '08 -- Marcus calls the return home "a dream come true for my family and me, something Brian and I have been talking about all our lives."

A quintessential team guy who hates to take a day off -- grinder, a word that comes up frequently in his interviews, fits perfectly -- Brian offers a rare glimpse into his sentimental side when he's asked what it means to have inspired his brother.

"It's hard to have that kind of role when you're seven years apart," Brian said. "We hung out as much as we could. It's obviously something he wanted, being a professional baseball player, and he did it.

"It's kind of flattering ... it really is. I'm not that much of a rah-rah guy. I lead by example. He's one of those players who's had some success early on -- and he's fun to watch.

"And he's a great team guy. If you look back at his Atlanta days, he was always the first guy on the top step of the dugout when a guy hits a homer. He brings a lot of adrenaline to a team. "

During his seven years as pitching coach of the Angels in Anaheim, Black saw how two brother acts -- Bengie and Jose Molina and the Weavers, Jeff and Jered -- lifted each other and sees the Giles brothers following suit.

"The closeness of a brother relationship will help them in their support of each other," Black said of the Giles tandem. "I don't know the extent of their relationship, but from what I can gather, there is an openness and honesty to their relationship.

"They'll be able to get deep with each other on a baseball side. Sometimes a player doesn't open up completely with coaches or teammates. They'll be able to talk to each other, because they know each other best in terms of their personalities -- and even though there's a gap in age there, I'm sure they seen enough of each other on television and video to know the types of hitters they are."

Black also values their feel for the game and welcomes their colorful clubhouse style.

"They're lighthearted guys," Black said. "You like being around these guys. But what I know, especially about Brian -- I don't know Marcus as well -- is that at the core, these guys are baseball players and want to win games. They understand that's the first priority.

"They know when it's time to have a lighthearted moment and when it's time to strap it on and play. That's what I like. They have that instinctual feel about what's important."

Both brothers played football at Granite Hills High School, Brian as a running back, Marcus as a defensive back.

Rabid Chargers fans, they'd love to beat San Diego's football team to a championship. The long road starts here, but it was paved years ago in El Cajon when Brian showed Marcus how it's done, and the kid brother took that inspiration and ran with it.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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