Giants

Giants' Brandon Crawford Reacts to Joe Panik's Retirement From MLB

Crawford reacts, reminisces after Panik announces retirement originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

It was a little late on the East Coast on Thursday by the time Brandon Crawford saw the news that Joe Panik is hanging up his spikes, so the Giants' shortstop waited until Friday morning to send a text to his friend and longtime teammate.

But he did notice that Giants fans were paying tribute on social media, and there was certainly a theme.

"I saw a lot of the glove-flip double play," Crawford said, smiling. "That was probably what I saw the most."

Crawford was on the receiving end of the flip in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, the defining play of Panik's career. On Thursday, Panik confirmed that his playing days are over, but Crawford wasn't surprised by the news. He said he heard before spring training that Panik was likely done. 

Crawford was already entrenched as one of the best young shortstops in the National League when Panik arrived in 2014, and the two quickly formed a bond on and off the field. Panik slid in alongside Crawford and Brandon Belt in the clubhouse, and he and his wife vacationed with the Crawfords in the offseason. On the field, they were for a time the best defensive middle infield in baseball. 

Aside from the glove-flip, Crawford noted that Panik's homer in Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS -- the Travis Ishikawa Game -- stood out. He also enjoyed seeing former Giants reliever Derek Law post a highlight to his Instagram of a hook-shot pass Panik once threw to Crawford in the 13th inning of a win over the Colorado Rockies in 2016. 

"He was a great teammate, locker neighbor for a lot of my career, and became a really good friend," Crawford said.

The Panik news is just the latest reminder of how incredible it is that Crawford is still the everyday shortstop at Oracle Park and Belt the first baseman. The two remain in the same row of lockers, although now their closest neighbors are Thairo Estrada and Mauricio Llovera. For years, it was Panik who had one of those spots, and for a while he helped complete an infield that might never be topped in the minds of Giants fans. 

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The infield of Crawford, Belt, Panik and Matt Duffy was one of the best in the NL in 2015 and still is remembered fondly, as evidenced by the outpouring of support on social media every time Panik or Duffy is mentioned. 

"It was awesome because we were all homegrown and that doesn't happen very often across baseball," Crawford said. "I think it's great that fans loved it too because I'm sure they like seeing guys come up through the organization and make it to the big leagues and play well also."

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