LOS ANGELES -- Brandon Hicks' ability to turn double plays even when opposing baserunners are bearing down on him has hastened his emergence as the Giants' primary second baseman.
Hicks most recently demonstrated this skill in the seventh inning of Thursday night's 3-1, 10-inning victory of the Dodgers. He took shortstop Brandon Crawford's toss and unflinchingly released a perfect relay to first base despite Carl Crawford's oncoming presence.
Giants bench coach Ron Wotus, a former infielder who has spent 36 years in professional baseball, said Friday that Hicks turns double plays "as well as anybody I've seen." Wotus added that Hicks' toughness and efficiency account for the Giants' proficiency at recording double plays. They entered Friday tied for third in the Major Leagues with 40 twin killings.
Last year, the Giants ranked next to last in the National League with 128 double plays.
"That's something you look for in a second baseman -- a guy who'll stay in there and take the hit, a guy who wants to turn the double play more than get out of the way," Wotus added, praising Hicks further. "We're turning more double plays because of that. There's no question about it."
Hicks, who hustled his way from the list of non-roster Spring Training invitees onto the Opening Day roster, acknowledged that he tries to ignore the danger of being the double-play middleman.
"You really don't want to think about it, because then you won't be able to make the throw," Hicks said.
Technique helps Hicks as much as attitude.
"He has a very quick exchange [from gloving the ball to throwing it]," Wotus said. "He's able to get the ball on the way and then take the hit and fall."