WASHINGTON D.C. — Ryan Zimmerman’s bloop to center in the 11th inning late Sunday night helped lead to a loss for the Giants. But in the big picture, the single signaled a positive development.
Joe Panik tracked it without any trouble, seven innings after a throw from center hit his helmet, knocked a contact lens out, and brought back concussion concerns. A year ago, it was a flare to the outfield at AT&T Park that made Panik realize there really was something wrong, and that he shouldn’t keep playing through fogginess. This time, he said he feels fine.
“I went through the protocol and all the issues I had last year are non-existent,” he said. “You never know what will happen going forward, but right now I’m good to go.”
Panik was on second when Hunter Pence bounced a single up the middle. He looked like he would score easily, but Michael A. Taylor made an absurd throw to the left side of the plate that reached Matt Wieters’ glove as Panik did. Slow-motion replays showed that the ball nicked Panik’s helmet an instant before slipping into the glove. Panik was out at the plate, and a contact was knocked onto his cheek.
“I felt like I got punched,” he said.
Panik was taken back to the clubhouse momentarily but he returned to his position for the bottom of the inning. At one point, cameras caught him holding a finger in front of his face and moving it back and forth, as if to test his wooziness. Panik said he was trying to see if the new contact was working, but he was also doing some of the tests he was taught last summer to see if his vestibular system was normal.
Panik had a slight headache late in a 20-inning day, but he was already scheduled to be off Monday in Miami. He said he’ll keep monitoring his symptoms and he will be more honest about anything that pops up, but he’s confident he’s fine.
Without Panik on Monday, the Giants will be missing their hottest bat. He had five hits in the doubleheader and drew two walks. He reached base three times Sunday night, but the Giants lost 6-2 when Howie Kendrick hit a walk-off grand slam in extras.
“I picked a good day to feel good at the plate,” Panik said, smiling.
Bruce Bochy wished he had more swinging it that way.
“What a day he had,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some guys struggling. We had some guys who had a rough day, but he really delivered all day.”
Jarrett Parker was at the front of the line, going 0 for 9 with six strikeouts. Kelby Tomlinson struck out four times in the nightcap.
There were positives, though. Matt Moore, with a lighter grip on his pitches, showed increased command and matched Max Scherzer through seven. Pablo Sandoval hit a homer to the upper deck in right field. It wasn’t enough, though. Two batters after Zimmerman’s bloop, Kendrick hit an Albert Suarez pitch out to left.