ATLANTA -- Brandon Hicks has been too busy trying to further his career to get mad at a former employer, in this case the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves thought highly of Hicks, who has become the Giants' primary second baseman. They selected him in the third round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, a Draft that also brought Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman, right fielder Jason Heyward and closer Craig Kimbrel (in the 33rd round, if you can believe that). Atlanta also drafted a left-handed pitcher named Brandon Belt in the 11th round, but the future Giants first baseman didn't sign.
From all accounts, former Atlanta manager Bobby Cox respected Hicks' ability, particularly on defense at shortstop. But 2010, when Hicks made his Major League debut with the Braves, also happened to be the year they drafted Andrelton Simmons in the second round. Simmons supplanted Hicks and every other Braves prospect as the shortstop to watch.
But Hicks, facing his original team for the first time, insisted that he harbored no bad feelings toward the Braves.
"They gave me an opportunity over there," said Hicks, whose tenure in Atlanta's organization ended when the A's claimed him off waivers in March 2012. "They gave me my first shot in professional baseball, so I'm really thankful for that. I guess they just chose a different route. That happens in this business. You just have to roll with it."
Hicks, who scrambled off the heap of non-roster invitees to make San Francisco's Opening Day roster, has learned to take nothing for granted.
"When you're given that opportunity, you want to make the most of it," he said. "Because you don't know how many more you'll get."
Lay it down: Giants excel at bunting
ATLANTA -- Besides amassing a surprising home run total thus far, the Giants also are excelling in the art of making minimal contact: Bunting.
They entered Saturday with 16 sacrifice bunts, third in the National League behind Miami and Milwaukee. The Giants were particularly effective with this skill in Friday's series opener against Atlanta, as Tim Lincecum and Ehire Adrianza put down successful sacrifices.
Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery, who doubles as the team's bunting guru, pointed out the challenge Adrianza faced. Everybody knew Adrianza was ordered to bunt with runners on first and second and no outs in the seventh inning. Yet he still accomplished his task.
"That's what we've been working on since Spring Training, trying to create that pressure in your mind," Flannery said Saturday. "So the first thing you have to do on your way up there is slow everything down. Take a moment and do a few things that you know are the keys for you to get a bunt down. Usually it's go with your strike zone, try not to get out of it and understand that the pressure's on [the pitcher] when it's [runners on] first and second, nobody out or first and second, one out."
Flannery observed that refining this skill is a constant responsibility.
"They've worked hard at it and we have to continue to work hard at it," he said. "It's one of those parts of the game where if you don't work on it, it'll come back and bite you real quick."
Scutaro has been hitting in batting cage
ATLANTA -- Marco Scutaro has resumed taking batting practice, possibly indicating that the Giants' second baseman is progressing in his recovery from a strained lower back.
Scutaro has remained at the Giants' training complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., attempting to strengthen the back that sidelined him for all but one game in the Cactus League season.
Giants vice president and assistant general manager Bobby Evans conveyed the Scutaro update on Marty Lurie's show on KNBR-AM (680), the Giants' flagship radio station. Evans said he believed that Scutaro hit in a cage last week from Monday through Thursday.
Previous reports on Scutaro's condition revealed that he was participating in baseball-related activities but little else.