Jordan Hicks

Hicks' repertoire, mindset impressing in start to Giants career

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SAN FRANCISCO – When Jordan Hicks felt a twinge in his right knee while warming up for the fourth inning Wednesday, prompting a visit from team trainer Dave Groeschner, Giants manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Bryan Price, the veteran reliever-turned-starter had only one main concern on his mind.

With a lengthy history of ailments that included Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow in 2019, Hicks was concerned about word getting back to his family about another possible setback.

“I just don’t want my mom at home worried or anything when they come out,” Hicks said. “I told them I was good. I was really trying to get them off the mound so I could lock back in. It wasn’t anything serious at all.”

What is serious is how well Hicks has pitched for the Giants as a starter after spending the bulk of his career as a reliever.

The 27-year-old right-hander pitched six strong innings, allowing four hits and one run while paving the way for the Giants’ 7-1 victory over the Washington Nationals at Oracle Park, helping San Francisco avoid being swept for the second time in the first two weeks of the season.

That came on the heels of Hicks’ first two starts when he allowed one run over a combined 12 innings of work.

“Really, really good starts, every one of them,” Melvin said. “It’s more just the mindset than anything else. He wants to go out there and give us innings. That mindset has worked really well for him.”

Hicks needed just 79 pitches (51 strikes) to get through his day against the Nationals – the fewest he has thrown in any of his starts this season.

That efficiency prevented the Nationals from stringing much together. Their lone run came on a Joey Gallo solo home run leading off the second. Hicks allowed only one runner past second base after that.

“I feel like I’m in a good spot,” Hicks said. “Not trying to do too much with the off-speed. Just didn’t feel like it was 100 percent there today. The splitter was bouncing four feet in front of the plate. Sinker was right where I wanted it to be. Slider was about average.”

The only hiccups Hicks had – other than Gallo’s home run on a 3-2 pitch – came when Hicks appeared to grab at his right knee while warming up for the fourth. He felt an initial twinge then tried to brush it off as the trainers and coaches came out.

“Sometimes whenever your elbow pops or something rolls over the bone, it felt like that and that doesn’t happen all the time so I was making sure I was good,” Hicks said.

The extended discussion among the group basically came down to one thing.

“He just wanted us to go away,” Melvin said.

After convincing the staff that he was fine and that he wanted to stay in the game, Hicks stumbled a little before getting back on track. He was called for a pitch-clock violation to Gallo – the first of Hicks’ career – that led to a walk.

In the fifth, Hicks uncorked a 98 mph sinker that sailed behind Jacob Young and hit the backstop.

Those were just blips on an otherwise very solid afternoon for Hicks, one of the team’s prized offseason acquisitions.

The Giants obviously like what they’ve seen so far. And Hicks likes where he’s at and what he’s been able to do as a starter again, relying heavily on his sinker to get things done against the Nationals.

Six of the 18 outs recorded while Hicks was on the mound came on his sinker. He also induced a pair of double plays with that same pitch.

“It felt like I was in and out of innings pretty quick,” Hicks said. “My sinker was going today and that’s my biggest pitch. Even when the off-speed’s not there, it’s good to know that I can fall back on that at a heavy dosage.”

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