SAN FRANCISCO -- We have retired the #MarcoMonday updates, but today was still the time to ask about a second baseman with a back injury. The news wasn't surprising.
Manager Bruce Bochy said Joe Panik had an MRI on his back this morning and indicated that the 24-year-old is done for the year.
"The odds lean more toward the season being over for him," Bochy said. "I talked to him yesterday. He didn't really feel a lot of improvement. He's going to need some rest. I would be surprised if he plays, unless things work out really, really well and we get to October."
Assuming no miracle comeback, Panik's first full big league season will end with this line: 100 games, .312/.378/.455 slash line, eight homers, 27 doubles, 130 OPS+. He made the All-Star team and was viewed as a Gold Glove candidate before getting hurt. The good news is that the Giants don't believe this is a chronic issue, and they're confident he'll be fine next spring. Panik is dealing with the wear-and-tear of taking hits at second base, but from everything I've gathered, this isn't a case where there's serious long-term damage in there. That's all the more reason to shut Panik down now, not rush him back when the Giants have just 19 games left.
"We have to do what's right," Bochy said.
The same will hold true for Hunter Pence at some point. Pence will take dry swings today, meaning he won't be hitting a ball. That's a long way from actual BP on the field.
"It may get to the point where we may feel it's not worth the risk," Bochy said. "I don't mean to be negative, but we have to be smart about this."
Pence is working hard every day to come back, even if it's just for one game. He has been doing drills in the cage to track balls with his eyes, making sure his timing isn't completely lost. Still, at some point the Giants may embrace caution.
"I know you're going to go to Hunter and talk to him and he'll say, 'Whoa, wait a minute,'" Bochy said, holding his hands up. "But we'll see how the progress goes."
--- Brandon Crawford took some swings and fielded grounders today. He could be back in the lineup as soon as tomorrow.
--- The Giants have so many guys in the bullpen that it looked like a spring training workout when the relievers went out for their daily sprints. Bochy said that the one guy he really wants to get back out there is Matt Cain. "I want to see where he's at," Bochy said.
It wouldn't be a surprise if Cain gets into tonight's game. It's drizzling and 40-year-old Tim Hudson is on the mound.
On that note, tonight is the rare night when we'll keep an eye on the crowd. The sellout streak is at 395, but it's wet and cold, the Giants are facing the lowly Reds on a school night, they're way out of first, and the Niners are playing tonight. If the streak doesn't die tonight, I suppose the Giants will never allow it to die.