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Joe Panik returns, starts for Giants after concussion

Joe Panik has returned after a month-long stint on the concussion DL.

What’s more, Bruce Bochy immediately plopped his second baseman into the three-spot –the same spot that the skipper called this year’s “black hole” — to kick off a four-game series against the first-place Washington Nationals (59-42).

The hope is that Panik will help jump-start a listless offense before it faces one of this year’s toughest teams. He’s ready to reverse the three-spot karma:

“I’m gonna try to change that.”

Panik didn’t feel concussion symptoms and passed tests three days after the incident. He was placed on the seven-day DL on June 28 and his return was stalled after numerous set-backs during his rehab assignment with the Sacramento River Cats. He just wasn’t ready, Panik said:

“It’s not like you can play feeling pretty good in the brain.”

The Giants (59-42) had to be patient with such a touchy injury; they’ve become used to it, slow-playing other injured players like Hunter Pence and Matt Cain for fear of any re-aggravation. Panik is in the game with no limitations, said Bochy:

“We wouldn’t bring him back if he had a limited work load.”

Panik is leading a train of injured teammates back into action. Pence could be back as early as Saturday depending on how he feels during Thursday night’s game in Reno. Matt Duffy is running the bases today and tomorrow and could start his rehab assignment this weekend.

Panik went 3-for-13 in four rehab appearances with the River Cats. Pence is hitting .450 with 6 RBI and three home runs in six appearances.

But news wasn’t all pure and peachy. Josh Osich was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained left forearm. It’s an injury he’s been dealing with for a few days, said Bochy, but the MRI came back with positive results. They’re just playing it cautious with one of their two lefties in the bullpen.

Lefty Matt Reynolds joined the 25-man in his place. The Giants have seen Reynolds a few times–he played with the Rockies and Diamondbacks during his five-year career. Bochy liked what he saw:

“I’ve liked him … He’s a strike-thrower. We’re excited to have him.”

Reynolds has appeared in 13 games with the Richmond Flying Squirrels and River Cats, where he’s tossed a combined 10-1/3 scoreless innings.

Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at for full coverage of Giants baseball.

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