San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik (12) high fives San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) after scoring a run against the Colorado Rockies at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California, on September 20, 2017. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Joe Panik leaves game with strained groin

AT&T PARK — San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik suffered a strained left groin running toward third base after a double by center fielder Gorkys Hernandez on Friday night against the St. Louis Cardinals. He exited the game and was replaced by Austin Slater.

Upon entering the dugout in the fourth inning, Panik could be seen walking down toward the clubhouse. Slater was inserted into left field the next half inning, while starting left fielder Alen Hanson moved to second base.

Panik, who already missed time due to a thumb injury, is hitting .237 with four home runs. He’s struggled to find a rhythm at the plate this year.

Slater was called up two weeks ago from Triple-A Sacramento. He’s considered one of San Francisco’s top prospects, but he has only made seven starts in his 14 games with the club.

The Giants are currently without third baseman Evan Longoria (broken hand) until at least early August, and Panik’s injury could deal another blow to their infield depth.

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