Joe Panik expected to be in San Francisco Giants’ lineup tonight; Hunter Pence this weekend

Hunter Pence

San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence hits a grand slam home run off Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Pedro Baez in the eighth inning of their baseball game Thursday, April 7, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Things have been bleak lately for the San Francisco Giants, but it appears — FINALLY — help is on the way.

Giants general manager Bobby Evans told KNBR radio this morning thatJoe  Panik likely will be in the starting lineup TONIGHT when the Giants open a four-game series against the Washington Nationals.

Panik has been out since June 28 with a concussion after being hit in the helmet with pitch. He started a rehab assignment on July 19, played two games, then sat after he “didn’t feel right.” He got cleared to play again, and has played the past two nights in Sacramento, including a full nine innings on Wednesday when he went 2 for 4.

Evans also said that Hunter Pence likely will be activated some time this weekend. Pence has been on the DL since early June after having hamstring surgery. Pence has hit .450 for Sacramento in six games and has homered in each of the past two games.

The next question is: Who will the Giants jettison from the 25-man roster to make room for Panik, then Pence?

Here’s my best guess:

I think it’s Jarrett Parker. Yes, sending down an outfielder to call up an infielder may seem a bit odd, but Parker has options left. Parker likely gets sent down when Pence gets activated anyway, and this will allow the Giants to hang onto other reserves without options like Grant Green, Ramiro Pena or Conor Gillaspie, even if it’s just for a couple of days.

It would leave the Giants with just four outfielders for the next couple of days, until Pence gets the call. But the Giants have done that before, plus Brandon Belt and Green are outfield options in a pinch.

However, when Pence gets activated, next on the chopping block is Green.

Green made some nice contributions when he got called up from Sacramento. But since the All-Star break, he’s 3-for-16 (.188) and made just three starts.

Green would need to clear waivers and accept the assignment to be sent to Triple-A, just as Ruben Tejada was eight days ago. Pena and Gillaspie are in the same boat. Tejada should clear waivers in a couple of days, and could be headed back to Sacramento if he does. So it’s possible they could have Tejada back in the system on the same day they DFA Green.

Oh, and the Giants also have Ehire Adrianza and Matt Duffy on the mend.

Adrianza is about 13 days into his 20-day max minor league rehab stint, meaning the Giants will have to make a decision quickly with him. He’s hitting .368 with three homers on his rehab stint.

If figures Pena goes when Adrianza is ready. Gillaspie is on the block when Duffy is ready. Duffy is slated to start his rehab assignment this weekend.

I just don’t see the Giants sending down Mac Williamson, who has options left. But Bruce Bochy likes his right-handed power bat off the bench, as well he should.

And no one in the bullpen goes anywhere unless the Giants make a trade for more pitching help.

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