Editor's note: The above video is from June 28.
SAN FRANCISCO — Joe Panik drove in the go-ahead run four times on the last road trip, which is one of the reasons why it was so stunning to the Giants that Panik would eventually end up on the disabled list with a concussion. When he looks back at those big hits, Panik sees a boost for the team, but also the main reason why it took so long for him to realize he shouldn’t be playing.
“It’s funny looking back, because that’s what kept me going,” Panik said before Tuesday night’s game. “The overall numbers weren’t great and I didn’t get a lot of hits, but I got the ones that mattered. It kept me going. You’re out there helping the team. If I struggled during that time, I might have been more apt to say something. Obviously, looking back, it was very foolish.”
Ten days after he was drilled in the head by a Matt Moore pitch, Panik was a late scratch from the Giants lineup. Manager Bruce Bochy looked shaken as he told the media that Panik was suffering from concussion-like symptoms. The next day, Panik was put on the 7-day concussion disabled list. He said there’s currently no firm timetable for his return.
The Giants, who had four players suffer concussions last season, are determined to be extra cautious with Panik. He is doing light conditioning on an exercise bike and said he is starting to feel noticeably better, but he couldn’t say when he’ll ramp up activity. Panik and the Giants will just have to be patient.
“That’s the frustrating part,” he said. “The brain has a mind of its own, as someone told me.”
Panik’s brain gave him initial signs that something was off, but he thought he would be able to shake the cobwebs. He felt pretty close to normal immediately after getting hit but a slight headache stayed with him over the coming days. He at first figured that was natural, noting that any other body part hurts for a while after getting hit.
Panik passed a concussion test each of the first three days after the incident and he continued to play well, but he started to realize he wasn’t quite right. His focus and ability to track plays on the field were off at times, and when he looks back on that week, he sees that he was uncharacteristically irritable and also sensitive to sound.
“Something didn’t feel normal,” he said. “I did the concussion tests, but with the adrenaline, you keep thinking ‘I’m alright.’ I thought it was something mild and I would get over it.”
Giants trainers continued to put Panik through tests and told him that he needed to say something if he felt there was something wrong. After the first game of the Bay Bridge series, Panik knew that it was time to take a break. There was a pop-up to shallow right-center in the ninth that ticked off his glove as he ran into the outfield.
“That pop-up was like, ‘Alright, I can’t keep doing this,’” Panik said.
Panik has been unable to watch full games from the bench because the noise and lights can be overwhelming, but the team is playing well and Triple-A call-ups have held up at second base. Kelby Tomlinson should be back for the start of the second half. Panik said watching other infielders fill the void has made it a little easier to handle the injury and the lack of a timetable for return.
Asked about Panik this week, Bochy made it clear that the second baseman is further away than other injured Giants.
"We're not going to rush that,” he said.
--- In other injury news: Bochy said the Giants will announce Hunter Pence’s rehab game schedule sometime this weekend, which would seem to indicate that he could be playing minor league games as soon as next week. Pence (hamstring) ran sprints on the field Tuesday afternoon but didn’t look to be full strength … Tomlinson (thumb) will play for Triple-A Sacramento all of this week … Ehire Adrianza (foot) finally starts his rehab assignment on July 13. Expect the Giants to stretch that one out since they have a bit of a roster crunch … Matt Duffy took BP on the field for the first time since going on the DL … Denard Span (neck) could return to the lineup on Friday.