Giants Could Find Right-handed Bat, Platoon Joe Panik at Second Base

LAS VEGAS -- Over the past two days, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has spent more than an hour meeting with reporters in his suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. The word "platoon" has come up over and over again.

There certainly are players the Giants hope to have out there just about every day, but at some spots, Zaidi plans to take advantage of the matchups. That might be a case at second base, where the Giants brought Joe Panik back on a one-year deal but still could bolster their infield depth.

Zaidi said Panik could have a right-handed-hitting partner at times, although he pointed out that the veteran still will see the lion's share of the playing time. 

"I think with a guy like Joe Panik, who does hit right-handed pitching better than left-handed pitching -- although he has hit lefties in the past -- we kind of look at it as a way to strategically plan his days off (more) than necessarily a straight platoon," Zaidi said Tuesday at the MLB Winter Meetings.

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Panik hit .282 against right-handed pitchers last season but just .191 against lefties, with two extra-base hits -- including, to be fair, a homer off Clayton Kershaw -- in 110 at-bats. There have been times in his career when Panik has fared well against lefties, but overall he has a .665 OPS against them, compared to a .760 OPS against righties.

If the Giants were to limit Panik's time against tough lefties, they would need to bring in help. They like Abiatal Avelino, who hits from the right side, but anticipate him getting more seasoning in Triple-A.

"A lot of it is going to depend on how we fill out the bench, but there are a few different guys on this team where I do see platooning as an option," Zaidi said. "Platooning doesn't mean you're a left-handed hitter who never plays against left-handed pitching, but maybe for a guy whose workload you're trying to manage, who you are trying to have be a 120- or 140-game player, when he gets those days off you strategically plan around a left-handed pitcher."

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