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Hicks taking advantage of infield audition

Hicks taking advantage of infield audition

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Brandon Hicks emphatically stated his case for a roster spot Sunday afternoon at Camelback Ranch.

The 28-year-old infielder crushed a 1-1 offering from reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw into the Bermuda grass behind right field, giving the Giants an early lead and likely turning a few more heads.

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Given the Giants' past struggles against the Dodgers' ace, they could use just about anyone who can hit Kershaw. Right now, Hicks is in contention for a utility infield spot -- at least one of which is up for grabs on the Major League roster.

"He's got some experience, and he's got some power," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He lets it go. He's done a good job with second and short, and we'll probably work him at third a little bit. You'd like to have as many options as you can, and he's certainly one of them."

Hicks has gotten a fair shake in the position battle this spring. He's one of just two Giants to appear in nine Cactus League games. (The other is outfielder Juan Perez).

And Hicks is taking full advantage of that playing time, too. He's hitting .429 with a monstrous .929 slugging percentage.

"When you get at least two at-bats a day, that's great, but even when you only get that one, you've got to make the most of it," Hicks said before he knocked in all three Giants runs Sunday. "So just try and slow the game down and do what you can. ... I'm slowly feeling more and more comfortable."

Hicks has shown plenty of patience at the plate as well, with four walks this spring, including one with the bases loaded Sunday. Conversely, however, he has struck out six times -- accounting for all but two of his outs.

Everyday second baseman Marco Scutaro is still battling back problems, and if they continue to linger through Opening Day, that could clear up roster room for Hicks. So what exactly does Hicks feel like he needs to do to earn a spot in a crowded race?

"Show them I can play all the infield positions and play good defense, and just keep having consistent at-bats," Hicks said. "I need to cut my strikeouts down. I've struck out more than I would like to early on. I've got to keep having consistent at-bats and put the ball in play."

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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