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Panik set for brief rehab stint

Giants' second baseman hopes to return from back injury on Monday

LOS ANGELES -- By this time next week, second baseman Joe Panik hopes to have resumed being a member in good standing in the San Francisco Giants' lineup.

Panik, whose presence the Giants sorely miss, will gauge his recovery from lower back inflammation by launching his injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Thursday against Reno. Since the Minor League season is scheduled to end Monday, Panik ideally will regain a semblance of his all-around skills over the weekend. In a perfect scenario, he would play two or three games with the River Cats before rejoining the Giants in Phoenix for their three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks starting Monday.

Wednesday's series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers marked the 30th game Panik missed since he went on the disabled list.

"It's been a long 4 1/2 weeks," he said.

Panik, who earned All-Star status and batted .309 before being sidelined, said that he won't have to wear a brace or any similar device while playing. That reflects his intent to avoid dwelling on his injury or lodging it in the back of his mind as he tries to play himself back into a Giants uniform.

"Don't even think about it," Panik said, describing his mindset. "Just go out and play. Let it all out on the field."

Worth noting

Brandon Crawford's bruised left calf remained too stiff to enable him to play shortstop. But he was available to pinch-hit on Wednesday.

"It's a lot better today than it was yesterday," said Crawford, who was injured when he was struck in the leg by a pitch from Dodgers right-hander Chris Hatcher in Monday's 13th inning. "Some of the movements I would need to play a good shortstop would be limited."

• Right-hander Tim Lincecum flew to Vail, Colo., to consult with a specialist for a second opinion regarding his degenerative hip condition. He's expected to rejoin the team on Thursday in Denver.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.
Read More: San Francisco Giants, Brandon Crawford, Tim Lincecum, Joe Panik