On Friday, the Mets announced the signing free agent infielder Joe Panik, a move that was rather expected ever since the Giants designated him for assignment on Tuesday.
The Mets now have their replacement for second baseman Robinson Cano, who is likely out for the season with a tore hamstring he suffered in Sunday's game at Pittsburgh. He was diagnosed with the injury on Monday, when he was also placed on the 10-day injured list.
Panik will make his Mets debut on Friday night against Washington, playing second base and he will be hitting eighth.
Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said of whether he looks at Panik as their regular second baseman or if he will still platoon three or four guys, as he said he would Wednesday, "I think we will still move pieces around. I think we have to understand, and first and foremost, how (Jeff) McNeil is going, and we talked about this the other day, when he's stressed, second base is an easier position on his body, so we always have to be aware of that. Having a lefty, especially against a pitcher like this (referring to Washington's Friday night starter, Stephen Strasberg), to be able to go in there and play second base and still have a lefty on the bench, is something we feel is an advantage for us."
To accommodate Panik, the Hopewell Junction, NY native who played his college ball at St. John's, on the roster, the Mets designated infielder Adeiny Hechavarría for assignment.
On making the decision to DFA Hechavarria and keep Luis Guillorme here, Callaway said, "Some is what I just said. Now we still have a lefty on the bench, right. We have a few lefties in the game and we still have a lefty bat off the bench. It's a tough decision. Hech has been here; he's got great defensive skills. We feel Guillorme does as well, so it came down to a few factors that we feel was just a baseball decision that's always a tough one. We hope that somehow he ends up staying with our organization."
Callaway was asked if he felt the excitement in the locker room on Friday afternoon with the arrival of Panik and reliever Brad Brach, who was signed on Thursday, and he said, "Yeah, you do, actually. Both of these guys have been very high performers at certain times in their careers, so for what happened to Cano and to have Panik available is - that's unbelievable, right - we kind of lucked out on that one. So, and with the struggles of our bullpen, although they've been pitching great since the All-Star break, to have somebody like Brad Brach available, that can have a huge chance to bolster our bullpen, is also something that is great. There's definitely a buzz in there, and I'm sure that everybody's glad we got these two guys."
Panik, 28, was an All-Star in 2015 with San Francisco and helped the Giants win the World Series in 2014. He earned a Gold Glove at second base in 2016.
In six seasons with San Francisco, Panik has hit .271 with 288 runs scored, 117 doubles, 18 triples, 36 home runs, 221 RBI and a .334 OBP.
Panik will be the eighth St. John’s player to appear with the Mets joining: LHP John Franco, LHP Frank Viola, RHP Larry Bearnarth, infielder Mike Jorgensen, LHP C.J. Nitkowski, infielder Ted Schreiber and RHP Terry Bross.
Callaway was asked if he thinks Cano has a chance to play again this season, and he said, "That's really difficult to say. I'm hopeful, that's about all I can say. We won't have a timeline for him; we're just going to treat the heck out of him every day, and see if we can do our best to get him back."
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