Mets make it official with Panik, DFA Hechavarria

Former Giants second baseman, NY native 'ecstatic' to join new club

August 10th, 2019

NEW YORK -- As expected by many, the Mets signed second baseman on Friday. In a corresponding move, the team designated infielder Adeiny Hechavarria for assignment. Panik, wearing No. 2, was in the lineup for Friday night's game against the Nationals, batting eighth and playing second base.

“Man, I was ecstatic [to be able to sign with the Mets], because you never know in these types of situations what’s going to happen,” Panik said. “Couldn’t work out any better for myself personally. Lot of family, lot of friends in the area. For me to be coming to a club that’s hot right now, in a playoff push, it’s very exciting. For me, it’s a great situation.”

Panik, a New York native who attended St. John's University in Queens, was designated for assignment by the Giants on Tuesday. A significant part of the Giants’ 2014 World Series championship team, Panik was a career .271 hitter and a solid glove at second base over six seasons in San Francisco.

“I think it matters,” Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said of Panik’s postseason experience. “I think what we have in that clubhouse is something very special. There’s chemistry. Guys respect each other, they play for each other, and anyone that we were going to bring into this clubhouse, we wanted to be sure that he fit in. And we felt with the information that we gathered on Joe, that he had the right mesh of ability with personality to be an additive member of the clubhouse.”

Panik was batting just .235 with a career-low .627 OPS this year prior to his DFA. Since he cleared waivers, the Giants will pick up the remainder of his 2019 salary. The Mets will pay Panik a pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum salary, or roughly $150,000.

Panik is no stranger to Citi Field. In addition to playing at the park as a visitor for the Giants in 15 games, plus the 2016 National League Wild Card Game, Panik also played at the first-ever game at Citi Field -- between St. John’s and Georgetown on March 29, 2009.

“I guess you can say I played in the first game ever here,” he said, when asked if he came to games here before becoming a Major Leaguer. “We would come to games here every once in a while, if time allowed.”

Now, he joins a team that’s in the midst of a 13-1 stretch and making a serious run in the NL Wild Card race.

“Being part of a New York team in a push, I know how much excitement there is here,” he said. “You can feel it. In San Francisco, I felt it, all the excitement, all the way out there. And just hearing from my family and friends, all the excitement about what’s going on with the Mets, for me it’s going to be exciting to go out there. There’s going to be some good butterflies and whatnot.”

That’s part of why Panik didn’t have to think twice when talking with Van Wagenen about the opportunity.

“He didn’t have to sell me,” Panik said. “Seeing this team from afar, playing against them, hitting against this pitching staff, playing against this team, this is a place I definitely want to be. It really wasn’t difficult once I went unclaimed. This is where I wanted to be.”

No timetable on Cano

Second baseman spoke for the first time since sustaining a torn left hamstring on Sunday in Pittsburgh. He said that the doctors have yet to give him a timetable for recovery, something echoed by Mets manager Mickey Callaway.

“That’s really difficult to say,” Callaway said, when asked if Cano would play again this season. “I’m hopeful. That’s about all I can say. We don’t have a timeline for him. We’re just going to treat the heck out of him every day and see if we can do our best to get him back.”

Hunt, Lockwood visit Citi Field

Former Mets Ron Hunt and Skip Lockwood were at Citi Field on Friday, holding a meet and greet with fans. The team has brought back various alumni throughout the season, an initiative headed by vice president of alumni relations Jay Horwitz.

Hunt played 12 Major League seasons, with the first four of those coming with the Mets, beginning in 1963. In ‘64, he was the Mets’ first-ever All-Star starter in a Midsummer Classic played at the newly opened Shea Stadium.

Hunt recalled getting a hit in his first at-bat in the game off Dean Chance.

“I was a Met all my life, for the fans,” Hunt said, clarifying that when he played for other teams, he was “a player who played for the team that hired me.”

Lockwood played 12 Major League seasons, pitching in relief for the Mets from 1975-79. He talked about how Tom Seaver convinced him to buy a house in Greenwich, Conn., when he was on the team, but Lockwood didn’t have a car to get to the park so Seaver would bring him.

“So I had an extra hour and a half with Tom, every home game,” Lockwood said. “… He’s esoteric. He’s very into everything. ‘So, why do you pitch? Do you throw towards the catcher or do you throw through the catcher? Is he the stopping point?’ He’d ask you all these complicated questions. And I don’t have answers to that stuff, but he was very scientific, very methodical. Consummate gentleman and pitcher. He wasn’t the hardest thrower -- Nolan Ryan was the hardest thrower that I ever saw -- but he was the best pitcher.”