"Let's say you have a bad game and want to talk to your girlfriend, or your dad, someone you've always talked to after games," Panik explained. "It's 1:30, 2 a.m. back home, so they're sleeping. It's hard to communicate, especially when you're used to certain things like seeing them a lot. You don't have that sense of comfort because you're alone out here."
The finale of the Giants' four-game set in August in New York against the Mets proved to Panik that he belonged. After being reunited with old faces in familiar places, he went 3-for-4 with a double. Not since the 2000 Subway Series has a trip to Queens felt so fulfilling for someone who grew up as a Yankees fan.
"It brought a little extra out in me. Something clicked, and that was something I'd lacked for a month or so," Panik said. "There wasn't one exact moment. I just had a good game that last one against the Mets, and I've kept building the momentum.
"Going back home really got the ball rolling."
Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.