Panik settling in, could stick at No. 2 spot

Panik settling in, could stick at No. 2 spot

MIAMI -- Before Friday's 9-1 rout of the Marlins, Giants rookie Joe Panik returned to the No. 2 spot in the lineup for the first time since July 7 and looked a lot more comfortable than he has in his short tenure in the big leagues.

Panik went 2-for-5, something manager Bruce Bochy said he should feel good about, even though his career has gotten off to an underwhelming 13-for-56 beginning.

"It seems like he's much more relaxed now," Bochy said. "That's always a good start, especially to start the second half."

Panik has impressed Bochy with his glove as well. The 23-year-old has started at second base for 17 of the Giants' 24 games since he debuted June 21.

Panik was in the two-hole again Saturday -- and that will probably be a trend for a while, now that Hunter Pence is leading off and Brandon Belt has moved to the bottom half of the order.

Belt, who's experienced some discomfort in his back recently, entered Saturday 5-for-35 with a homer and four RBIs since being activated from the disabled list July 4. Bochy will keep Belt down in the order until he gets going again.

Before he missed 50 games with a broken thumb, he hit .264 with nine homers and 18 RBIs in 35 games. He struck out at a rather alarming rate, with 38 whiffs in that period. He'd already struck out 10 times in his 10 games back, including once Friday.

"His timing's right there," Bochy said. "But with that said, I do like the fact that I think Joe is a guy who might move runners a lot than with Belt as far as with hit and run and putting the bunt down."

Belt roped an RBI double in the second inning Saturday and later scored on a passed ball and throwing error by Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He left the game in the third inning due to dizziness and will be tested for a concussion before Sunday's game.

Maria Torres is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.