UA BASEBALL

Arizona Baseball: Offseason surgery allows Dixon to find focus at plate

2013-03-15T00:00:00Z Arizona Baseball: Offseason surgery allows Dixon to find focus at plateDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Andy Lopez wishes he had some great story on why Brandon Dixon is having such a strong start to the season.

He would love to tell a tale about how he and his junior third baseman spent hours in the batting cages working together.

But it's actually much less complicated than that and - and the Arizona Wildcats' longtime coach has nothing to do it.

"It sounds too simple, but he had Lasik surgery in the offseason and he became a different hitter," Lopez said. "He had a tough time reading the spin of the ball, and the results are just mind-boggling."

Dixon enters tonight's Pac-12 opener against Oregon State at Hi Corbett Field boasting a team-high .466 batting average through 20 games. The junior also leads the UA in runs (31), extra-base hits (12) and stolen bases (17). His 26 RBIs are second on the team. Dixon belted two home runs in Tuesday's win over Butler at Hi Corbett.

Dixon opted for surgery following a frustrating 2012 season. He was slated to be the Wildcats' starting first baseman last year, but couldn't hold onto the spot. Dixon batted .245 in 155 at-bats while playing the short end of a platoon with Joe Maggi.

"My contacts would get dry in the heat and wind and it was just irritating," Dixon said.

"The surgery has helped quite a bit. I think it's been a mix of that and just feeling more comfortable at the plate that has helped me this year."

Here's a closer look at Dixon's hot start and how he's having success in all facets of the game.

Base running

By the numbers: 1. In 18 stolen base attempts, Dixon has been thrown out just once.

The lowdown: Dixon has a bigger body (6-foot-1-inch, 213 pounds), but speed has always been a part of his game. He stole eight bases in 12 tries a year ago. Dixon's aggressive base running doesn't just show up in stolen base statistics either. The smooth right-handed hitter has four triples on the season.

Quotable: "I've always had some speed, but I also think I'm a smart base runner. It's always been a part of my game. But, now that I'm getting on base, I really get a chance to use it. I like being aggressive on the base paths." - Dixon

Hitting

By the numbers: 4. Dixon has four doubles, four triples and four home runs.

The lowdown: Lopez said we recruited Dixon out of Murrieta Valley High School in Murrieta, Calif., he thought he would have an instant impact on offense. The coach liked Dixon's short, strong swing. It's taken a couple of years, but Lopez is seeing that swing again this season. Dixon said he's been more focused this year on going the other way and hitting sharp ground balls.

Quotable: "I know I feel better at the plate and things have been going well, but I don't know what I'm hitting, batting averagewise. I just know that I've had some success and things have been going well." - Dixon

Fielding

By the numbers: 8. Dixon has eight errors in 57 chances this year at third base.

The lowdown: Dixon played shortstop in high school and was recruited by Lopez as a third baseman. But with Seth Mejias-Brean locked into the hot corner, Dixon moved to first for his sophomore season. He's back at third this year and is happy with the move back.

Quotable: "It's been a good transition. I've really had to work hard at it. First base came easy for me. Third base is a little tougher, but I like the challenge. I definitely like all the action you get over there." - Dixon

Today

• What: Oregon State at Arizona

• Where: Hi Corbett Field

• When: 6 p.m.

• Radio: 1290-AM

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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