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Why Dubon couldn't hide emotions after homer in Giants' win

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Mauricio Dubon homers

Mauricio Dubon spent all of the 2019-20 offseason preparing to be the Giants' most versatile player, but a funny thing happened soon after the sport returned last July. Within three weeks, Dubon tucked his infield gloves in a bag and never looked back. 

Dubon was the everyday center fielder for the final six weeks of his second season with the Giants and that carried over to 2021. He started in center field on Opening Day, but a slow April pushed him out of the regular rotation. Since the calendar turned to June and the Giants started facing nearly exclusively right-handers, Dubon has started just five games, limiting his opportunities to make an impact and to find his swing. 

The fifth start of the month came Tuesday against the Angels, and it was his first in center field since May. Dubon made the most of it, hitting a solo shot to dead center that was the final run the Giants would score in a 5-0 win. As he rounded first, Dubon took a deep breath and smiled. He briefly grabbed his helmet with two hands, unable to hold back his emotions. 

"It's been tough," Dubon said. "I've been able to put good swings on the ball and I'm not getting the results I wanted. I was just talking to my wife about it, it was more personal than anything else. I've been putting in a lot of work and (now) the results are showing. When I hit it, it felt kind of like, such a relief. You know, I've been putting in the work and she's been by my side the whole time. To be able to get the result was pretty good."

 

The Dubons found the perfect way to reset on the off day. Mauricio proposed to Nancy two years ago at Disneyland Paris, and they visited the original version on Monday in Anaheim. Given a rare start in the outfield the next night, Dubon crushed the first pitch of the second inning out to center. 

The homer happened so quickly that it would have been hard for observers to even notice the change Dubon has made. Because he hasn't been playing often, he has eliminated his big leg kick and gone with a subtle toe tap. Dubon said it'll be easier for him to keep his timing that way. 

"I've been just putting my foot down and trying to barrel the ball, and if I barrel the ball it's going to go a long way," he said.

His fifth homer of the season continued a theme for the Giants, who won for the sixth time in seven games. They jumped on lefty Andrew Heaney early in counts and scored five early runs, more than enough for a dominant Anthony DeSclafani. 

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The last one came from a young utility player who has done his best to stay involved as the Giants have taken off. Dubon said part of the emotion of that moment came from the fact that the Giants are winning and he wants to be a part of it. He has tried to stay ready, to contribute with every at-bat or inning, whether he's filling in at second, short and third or sliding back to center field. 

When he's not out there, Dubon is enjoying the show. This team has proven to be so deep and competitive that it can be hard to get on the field, a lesson a couple of young players learned after Sunday's game, but Dubon said it's been fun to watch it all develop. 

"We've got a great group of guys," he said. "We won't have any pricks -- we have guys that pull for each other."