SAN FRANCISCO — With the way Hunter Pence is swinging the bat for the River Cats, Joe Panik must have been tempted to stick him in the backseat on the trip down from Reno today. The Giants will wait a bit longer with Pence, but they at least got one key bat back in time for the first-place Nationals. 

Panik said he’s “feeling normal again” and all the concussion symptoms have dissipated, so he’s back in the lineup a day early. Panik was supposed to play nine innings for the River Cats today.

“I figured that if I could play nine innings in Reno, I could play nine here,” he said. 

[PAVLOVIC: Giants GM Evans: Panik will probably return tonight vs Nats]

Manager Bruce Bochy put Panik in a new spot. He’s hitting third, and Bochy said that at least for now, he likes the way Denard Span and Angel Pagan look hitting one-two. Panik is fine with the move. He’s just happy to be back. 

Pence could be right behind him, too, and Matt Duffy is getting pretty close. The Giants originally thought Pence might return on Monday, fly with the team on the off day, and play Tuesday in Philadelphia. But Pence hit his third homer last night and his legs feel great, so it’s possible he’s back at AT&T Park as soon as Saturday.

Duffy ran the bases today and it went well. He’ll do it again Friday, and barring a setback he could be playing a rehab game on Saturday. 

--- The news wasn’t all positive. Josh Osich was put on the DL with a left forearm strain, although an MRI came back pretty clean and Osich indicated he wanted to keep pitching.

“It’s been there a few days now,” Bochy said of the tightness. “With the number of days he missed, we decided to be a little cautious and put him on the DL and not rush him back. Get some help (up here). We’ve been a little short.”

Bochy said Osich, who hasn’t pitched since July 23, would have needed a couple more days off, so Matt Reynolds had his contract purchased from Triple-A. It’s worth noting here that the Giants originally said Cory Gearrin would just need 15 days off, and he’s still a few days from starting a rehab assignment. 

In the meantime, Reynolds, a 31-year-old lefty, will get a look. He spent parts of five seasons with the Rockies and Diamondbacks so the Giants had plenty of intel, and they kept an eye on his numbers while he was pitching in independent ball. He was signed June 24 and had 13 scoreless appearances for Double-A and Triple-A.

“I’ve always liked him,” Bochy said. “He’s a big guy, a strike-thrower.”

The Giants hope they don’t need to dig that deep into their ‘pen this weekend, but if Reynolds can show something, that’ll make life easier for Bobby Evans. He’s already searching for bullpen help, and you can bet teams raised the asking price a bit when Osich went on the DL.

--- Ruben Tejada is back in Sacramento. He cleared waivers and decided to come back to the organization. The Giants are hoping the same happens with Grant Green, who was DFA’d for Panik.