How #ForeverGiant Panik remains 'consummate professional' originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
When Joe Panik was released by the Giants in August of 2019, it didn’t feel real. After spending six years as the San Francisco second baseman, Panik would move on to another team.
After a stint with the New York Mets, Panik signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in January, and it took the team's play-by-play announcer, Ben Wagner, only five minutes into an interview to understand just how beloved the 2015 All-Star was.
“I thought originally, just coming off where he finished the season in New York and he was bouncing around a little bit, I thought -- this was a nice insurance policy to have in Buffalo,” Wagner said on the latest episode of the "Balk Talk" podcast. “If there was a need at the major league level, this guy was going to be one of the first phone calls.”
Wagner said that about 10 days into spring training, he thought Panik had a really good chance of making the Blue Jays' big league roster. He was needed on that roster.
“He’s open to bouncing around the diamond, he’s going to try and take reps in the outfield," Wagner said. "I thought ‘This guy’s going to play himself on to the Opening Day roster,’ and sure enough, if that was the case, if baseball hadn’t gotten shut down and this was the end of March like it was scheduled, Joe Panik would have had a jersey hanging in Toronto."
Wagner added with the success of the Jays and their ability to make it to the 2020 playoffs would not have happened without Panik.
“He jumped in immediately when Bo [Bichette] went down, his versatility in the middle of the diamond, his ability to have relaxed, professional at-bats -- which is really important in a young lineup -- and the way that the Blue Jays swing the bat too, some would say viciously -- Joe Panik never looked overmatched," Wagner said. "He was the consummate professional in that lineup whether he was starting or asked to come off that bench.”
Panik played in 41 games with the Blue Jays this past season, batting .225 with 27 hits and seven RBI.
While Panik was happy for the reset, despite wanting to be in San Francisco for many, many years, he will always remain a #ForeverGiant.