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Infielder Hicks ready for rare start with Giants

PHOENIX -- Appearing in a game is an occasional event for Brandon Hicks, but preparing to play is a constant activity.

Hicks, who's expected to start at second base in Friday's series opener at Los Angeles, understands his utility role. Spending parts of the 2010 and 2011 seasons as a reserve with Atlanta and a fraction of 2012 as an A's backup taught him that keeping busy furthers his chances for Major League survival.

"I kind of have a good feel for what I need to do," said Hicks, who's entering his eighth professional season. Thus, he's a regular at extra sessions of batting practice and fielding drills -- including Thursday morning, about 12 hours after leaving Chase Field following Wednesday night's game.

Hicks' effort paid off in Thursday's seventh inning as he clobbered a pinch-hit home run on a 3-2 pitch from Arizona reliever Josh Collmenter. Hicks' fourth Major League homer, which landed in Chase Field's second deck, reduced Arizona's lead to 4-3 and helped generate momentum that carried the Giants to an 8-5 triumph.

Hicks' calm grew as he worked the count to 3-2 against Collmenter before connecting.

"The adrenaline's going, so I tried to slow everything down," Hicks said.

Hicks' impending start had nothing to do with his slugging. Giants manager Bruce Bochy figured before Thursday that because Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu is scheduled to pitch Friday, that game could be a favorable time for the right-handed-batting Hicks' first start as a Giant.

Hicks, who made the season-opening squad as a non-roster invitee, realizes that staying in the big leagues is more difficult than reaching them.

"You have to continue to put your work in," said the 28-year-old, who hit .348 in 24 exhibition games. "That's part of the challenge of not playing every day. You have to always stay ready, get yourself a nice routine."

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.
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