San Francisco Giants: Time to Shut Down Panik and Crawford


The San Francisco Giants wear the black and orange color combination on their uniforms. However, black and blue may signify them more this season. Injuries have decimated the Giants through this very trying season, and seemingly no one has been safe. Right now, it may be time to shut down Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford.

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Crawford has missed nine of the Giants’ last 15 games, as an oblique injury, then a bruise on his calf, and now a combination of both, have brought his career year to an absolute halt.  He’s already surpassed his career-highs in home runs, runs batted, runs scored, and doubles, just to name a few, but his injuries have bogged him down, both at the plate and in the field. He’s moving gingerly, and those ailments are taking a toll.

Panik spent more than a month on the disabled list with inflammation in his back, but returned on September 7th. In his short stint back, Panik looked like his old, healthy self, lining a pinch-hit double off the wall in his first game back. The next day, he hit an RBI double and a solo home run in his return to the startign lineup, reminding everyone of exactly how good he is when he’s right. But on Wednesday, Panik left the game in the sixth inning, as his back flared up again, likely because of a diving attempt he made for a groundball earlier in the game.

Early in the season, the Giants had possibly the best middle infield duo in baseball with Panik and Crawford. Now, the two can’t stay on the field, and have played just four innings together since August started. To prevent further damage, especially to Panik and his back, the Giants should shut down the double play combination for the rest of the season.

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With 22 games left to play this season for the Giants, they really don’t have anything left to play for, except pride. The Giants are eight-and-a-half games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, and nine games behind the Chicago Cubs in the Wildcard, and barring some sort of divine intervention, the postseason is not in the cards for the Giants.

The fact that both Panik and Crawford have returned, and were subsequently forced out of games again because of their injuries should be extremely concerning. Shelving them for the rest of this season would seem to be the right move.

Crawford’s injuries aren’t as worrying in the long-term as Panik’s. After the game Wednesday, Crawford said that, because of the injury to his calf, he was being forced to swing all upper body, which re-aggravated his oblique strain. Giving Crawford the rest of the year to recover from the bruise that is covering basically his entire lower leg would allow his oblique to recover as well.

Panik’s injury, however, is one to be unsettled by, especially considering the Giants’ recent bad luck with second basemen who ended up with bad backs. In 2012, Freddy Sanchez underwent back surgery, and he didn’t play professional baseball again. Just last year, Marco Scutaro‘s career was ended when he was also forced to undergo back surgery.

The outlook for Panik is that, with an offseason of rest and rehab, his back should be fine. The Giants should allow that process to begin now, instead of potentially worsening the injury on the field during a time where the Giants are playing, for lack of a better term, meaningless games.

Giving those two time would allow younger players who are part of the team’s future, namely Kelby Tomlinson, to continue to gain major league experience. Tomlinson performed well during his stint as second baseman in Panik’s stead, and allowing him to get more at-bats will allow him to gain knowledge of more pitchers that he could face down the road. Experience can only be gained on the playing field, and getting Tomlinson some more is not a bad thing.

Panik and Crawford are both extremely competitive players, and they want to be out there on the field for their teammates and the fans. It won’t be an easy decision to shut those guys down, but it’s a decision that should be made. Though it may not seem like a good thing to have two All-Star players out of the lineup, it would be beneficial to, not only the team’s future, but Panik and Crawford’s futures as well.

Next: One Giants' Rotation Solution Could Be in Farm System