PHOENIX -- Giants second baseman Joe Panik aggravated his injured back in his third game since leaving the disabled list and was removed from Wednesday night's 2-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the seventh inning.
Panik, who will be examined by the Giants' medical staff during Thursday's scheduled off-day, didn't know whether he'd miss more playing time. At the very least, it was an ominous development for the Giants, who carved out a 14-20 record while Panik was sidelined.
"I'm sure he's hurting worse than what he's saying," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Asked whether his condition had regressed to "square one," Panik replied, "I don't know how far back it should go. But I didn't feel well today."
Now, as the Giants struggle to remain on the fringes of the National League West race -- they trail the first-place Dodgers by 8 1/2 games -- the club's hierarchy must consider whether it's worth trying to help Panik and shortstop Brandon Crawford (calf, oblique) patch themselves together enough to perform in a pennant race that exists mathematically but not practically.
Panik, a 2015 All-Star who's batting .312, insisted on playing if at all possible.
"That's my mindset," he said. "I'm a competitor. Obviously it depends on how I'm feeling. Because if I'm able to do my job, I'm going to want to be out there with those guys."
Panik reminded the Giants how much they missed him as they lost two of three games to the D-backs. He lined a pinch-hit double in his comeback appearance Monday, then went 2-for-3 with a double and a home run Tuesday. Wednesday, however, Panik said he felt discomfort in his back during a sixth-inning at-bat. It then hurt worse in the bottom of the inning when Panik made a diving attempt to snare Socrates Brito's single.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.