SF@ARI: Hicks hits a solo shot to the upper deck

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."

Former Giants pitcher helping with replay system

Inside look at MLBAM's expanded replay technology

PHOENIX -- John D'Acquisto relishes his new part-time job.

"I've got the best seat in the house," said D'Acquisto, the former Giants right-hander who sits next to the visitors' dugout at Chase Field. D'Acquisto, who lives in north Phoenix, serves as part of the three-person crew that functions as a conduit in the new replay system between the command center in New York and the ballpark.

D'Acquisto and his pair of counterparts are distinguished by the red shirts and caps they wear. Their official title is "field timing coordinator," and their goal is to help the review process proceed as smoothly and quickly as possible -- something that players insisted upon when the replay procedure was being devised.

"Being an ex-player, I kind of feel at home with that request," said D'Acquisto, 62, who began his 10-year Major League career by pitching for the Giants from 1973-76. His best year was 1974, when he finished 12-14 with a 3.77 ERA.

Among D'Acquisto's duties is to alert the command center of a potential challenge during the 10-second window when a manager leaves the dugout to discuss a call with an umpire. After a challenge is reviewed, D'Acquisto or another field timing coordinator relays the decision to the stadium's public-address announcer.

D'Acquisto doesn't get involved with the rulings made by game umpires or the challenges submitted by a manager.

"I take no instruction from anybody but New York," said D'Acquisto, whose activities away from the ballpark include writing about baseball for a sports website.