NEW YORK — The Mets on Friday signed second baseman Joe Panik — who was released earlier this week by the Giants — in a homecoming for the New York native.
Panik was signed before the Mets series opener against the Washington Nationals.
Born about 20 miles north of Citi Field in Yonkers, Panik lived in suburban Dutchess County and attended John Jay High in the hamlet of Hopewell Junction. He played college baseball for St. John’s, not far from his new team’s Queens stadium.
“It couldn’t have worked out any better for myself, personally, a lot of family, a lot of friends in the area,” Panik said. “For me to be coming to a club that’s hot right now … It’s very exciting. For me, it’s a great situation.”
On Friday, Panik batted eighth and went 1-for-4 as the Mets continued their hot streak with a 7-6 win. New York is in the thick of a crowded fight for a wild-card spot.
Panik actually played at Citi Field before the big-league club took the field for the first time.
“Yeah, actually, back in 2009 when Citi Field first opened I was a freshman at St. John’s and the first game, before the Mets opened up, St. John’s, we played Georgetown,” Panik recalled. “That was the first game ever here.”
Panik, 28, was designated for assignment by San Francisco this week and later released. The Giants selected him in the first round of the 2011 draft, and the former Gold Glove winner played a key role during the club’s 2014 World Series run.
“I think what we have in that clubhouse is something very special. There’s chemistry,” Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. “Any player that we were going to bring into this clubhouse, we wanted to make sure that he fit in.”
An All-Star in 2015, Panik hit .271 with 36 home runs and 221 RBIs in six seasons with San Francisco. He has struggled this year, batting just .235 with a career-low .627 OPS in 103 games with the Giants. He flied out in his first at-bat with New York on Friday night.
“You just don’t know what to expect when something like this happens. For me, it’s the first time in my career being DFA’d and changing teams,” Panik said. “I’ve been with the same organization since 2011 so it’s a lot of excitement right now.”
Panik fills a significant void for the Mets, who lost second baseman Robinson Cano to a torn left hamstring Sunday. There is no timetable for Cano’s return, and he could miss the rest of the season.
“He’s been in big situations and a guy that’s been in the World Series. He knows how to play this game,” Cano said about Panik. “I think he’s a guy that’s going to contribute to this season.”
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/giants/article/Former-Giants-second-baseman-Joe-Panik-joins-Mets-14294769.php.