SAN FRANCISCO -- When Joe Panik returned to the Giants lineup in late July, he didn't "feel right" when he stepped into the batter's box. The second baseman, who missed 23 games because of a concussion, said he was trying to find his way while enduring a hitting slump that lasted for about two weeks. But Panik felt like his timing was finally coming back in San Francisco's last two games.
Everything clicked for him Saturday night, as he hit two ground-rule doubles and finished 3-for-3 with two runs scored as part of a 6-2 Giants win over the Orioles at AT&T Park.
It was a long time coming for Panik, who hadn't recorded a multi-hit game since June 25.
"You've been out a month, it's going to take some time. Obviously you don't want that, but you just got to trust the process," said Panik, adding he felt like his timing returning at the plate was more a matter of when than if.
However, Panik acknowledged how difficult finding a rhythm has been. He's struggled to string together formidable at-bats and entered Saturday hitting .130 since rejoining the team. He slipped down to the eight-hole in the Giants lineup Saturday because of it. Manager Bruce Bochy even admitted Panik's rehab stint might have been shorter than necessary.
"We were a little desperate and we probably brought him back a little early," said Bochy. "He missed quite awhile with his concussion. Even though you start to feel comfortable down there, there's a big difference between Triple-A pitching and Major League pitching."
Panik agreed, but feels he's gradually getting his legs back, and the double into Triples Alley in right-center field in the sixth certainly confirmed that.
"Hopefully this game here gets him going," said Bochy.
Panik's liner in the sixth would have been a home run in a majority of Major League ballparks. But he's not concerned with that right now.
"I'm just happy the ball got down," said Panik. "I put a good swing on it. At this point I'm looking to put together some consistent at-bats."
His progress at the plate is a welcome sign for the Giants, who Bochy felt were nearing an offensive performance like the one they assembled Saturday. Now, as Panik said, it'll just be a matter of riding the wave he's created.
Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.