White Sox

Mike Pelfrey delivers strong performance to propel White Sox past Blue Jays

Mike Pelfrey delivers strong performance to propel White Sox past Blue Jays

TORONTO -- Four White Sox went deep on Saturday afternoon, including Mike Pelfrey.

The starting pitcher’s six innings pitched is tied for his longest outing of the season. Pelfrey provided the White Sox with only their fifth quality start in 25 games to propel them to a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in front of 47,171 at the Rogers Centre. Todd Frazier, Matt Davidson and Jose Abreu all homered for the White Sox, who won for the sixth time in eight tries.

“Nice job by Pelf today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Threw a lot of strikes. Obviously threw his breaking ball very effectively, kept it down below the zone. His change of speed was definitely a big factor. Used his fastball when he needed to. Thought he worked ahead and was able to get out of a little traffic.

“I think that’s his best start for us to date.”

While the offense provided several rounds of fireworks, Pelfrey did the rest. Though the White Sox have limited his innings total, the veteran right-hander has provided them with about all they could ask for a player who signed a minor-league contract on April 8.

While he narrowly avoided a big inning in the second, Pelfrey was otherwise outstanding against Toronto. He recorded perfect innings in the first, third, fourth and fifth and also faced the minimum in the sixth after inducing a double play off Josh Donaldson’s bat.

Pelfrey nearly relinquished a 2-0 lead in the second inning when he yielded three hits. But Ryan Goins’ two-out double to deep center with two aboard bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. Pelfrey then stranded a pair when he got Luke Maile to ground out.

Pelfrey allowed a run and four hits in six innings while striking out five. He lowered his earned run-average to 3.56 in the process.

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“The sinker was good, had good sink,” Pelfrey said. “The curveball was maybe the best it has been, which is refreshing because the start before it was probably the worst it has been. The slider was good too, and the split I thought was good. I had all four pitches working, and the guys behind me made some plays and they hit some balls at guys, and it ended up a good day.”

Tommy Kahnle also delivered a big performance for the White Sox. Kahnle took over in the seventh with a 3-2 lead and two men aboard and induced an inning-ending double play. Kahnle returned for the eighth and struck out two giving him 48 on the season with only six walks.

“(The double play) was huge because they had the go-ahead run at what, first?” Kahnle said. “They had the tying run at second. I was coming in there just doing what I normally do, trying to get ahead — even though I got behind early — I was trying to get Goins to get that double play ball. It worked out for us.”

The White Sox offense continued to provide its pitchers early runs.

Frazier blasted a 427-foot shot off Marcus Stroman with one out in the second inning to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Davidson followed with his fifth homer of the week to put the White Sox up by two runs.

Abreu put the White Sox back up two with a solo shot in the sixth inning, his first homer since May 24. The White Sox scored a run in the eighth on Donaldson’s second error of the game and added one in the ninth on a perfectly-executed suicide squeeze by Yolmer Sanchez.

“I thought I was going to have to be pretty good because the guy on the other side, Stroman, is pretty dang good,” Pelfrey said. “Luckily, he made a couple of mistakes, and the boys took advantage of them. He’s pretty tough, but we were able to come out on top.”

Ian Clarkin rides the Red Line again as Cubs claim former White Sox prospect for second time this offseason

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AP

Ian Clarkin rides the Red Line again as Cubs claim former White Sox prospect for second time this offseason

Dear Ian,

The balance in your Ventra transit account for your card is low — be sure to load more value soon to keep riding.

Ian Clarkin just took another metaphorical trip on the Red Line.

The one-time (two-time?) White Sox pitching prospect was claimed on waivers by the Cubs for the second time this offseason, his fourth stint on a Chicago baseball roster since November.

Clarkin, acquired by the White Sox in the seven-player swap with the New York Yankees in the summer of 2017, was designated for assignment by the South Siders early this offseason. The Cubs claimed him, then tried to get him off their 40-man roster via the waiver process. No luck. The White Sox picked him back up. Then they DFA'd him again to make room on the 40-man roster for the recently signed Kelvin Herrera. And now the Cubs have claimed him. Again.

The Cubs' 40-man roster sits at 39. Will they once more try to get Clarkin to Triple-A Iowa through waivers? Maybe. But the White Sox 40-man roster is a bit more crowded than it was before, meaning Clarkin's days with the White Sox organization might finally be through.

Clarkin was once one of the White Sox highly ranked prospects, but a tough go of things at Double-A Birmingham moved him out of that category. He finished with 4.98 ERA in 68.2 innings with the Barons.

Clarkin, a few weeks away from his 24th birthday, was a first-round pick of the Yankees in 2013.

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Why Daniel Palka is the White Sox man of the people

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USA TODAY

Why Daniel Palka is the White Sox man of the people

He was born in South Carolina, he played baseball at Georgia Tech, but make no mistake about it: Daniel Palka always had the South Side in his blood — even if he didn’t realize it.

“When I told my dad the White Sox claimed me (off waivers in 2017), he was like, ‘Man, that’s really good.’” Palka explained in an interview on the White Sox Talk Podcast. “Because if it was the Cubs, you never would have fit in on the North Side.”

Mike Palka and his wife, Denise, lived in Chicago and Naperville for two years before Daniel was born. Mr. Palka remembered the working-class mentality of White Sox fans. He could see it living deep in the bones of his youngest son.

“You just fit in very well on the South Side. Lots of Polish people, lots of hardworking people. If this works out, I think it’s going to be really good for you,” Palka’s dad told him.

Those words stayed with the White Sox outfielder last season. They remain there today as he looks back on a rookie year that came out of nowhere.

“I still laugh every time I think about that conversation (with my dad), because I thought it was just him being goofy, but he was dead on as far as the interaction I’ve had with (White Sox) fans,” Palka said. “With all honesty, I can say that was the best time I’ve ever had in my life. And not just because I was in the big leagues, but just being in Chicago was unbelievable.”

Palka got called up to the majors in late April and the 26-year-old became an instant hit. Despite playing in only 124 games, he led the team with 27 home runs. But calling them home runs would be a disservice to the word. All of them were Babe Ruth-ian blasts that he crushed like no one else in the game. According to Chris Kamka here at NBC Sports Chicago, Palka was the only player last season to hit at least 25 home runs and have an exit velocity over 100 mph on all of them. Nine of his home runs went over 115 mph, more than all but three players in the majors: Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Joey Gallo.

Look up the word “Palka” in the Polish-English dictionary, and it quite fittingly means “bat” or “club.”

“I think the word is actually ‘truncheon,’” Palka was quick to correct. “But I think that might sound a little medieval, so they had to change it to club.”

Other translated words for Palka are “stick” and “bludgeon.”

“Yeah, I love that,” Palka said.

Then came quite the story from the White Sox slugger about him and his bat. They’re apparently inseparable.

“I walk around with a baseball bat all day. When I’m in the grocery store, I have my bat with me. Anything I do. When I’m at L.A. Fitness, I play basketball while holding my bat. I play one-handed the whole entire time. I’m still better than anybody.”

Palka has been known to embellish the truth, like the time last season when he had people believe he was a McDonald’s All-American basketball player in high school. This might be one of his big fish stories.

Is this for real?

“Yeah.”

I want proof.

“I’ll send you photos. Whatever you need.”

I’m holding him to it.

Palka is known for his sense of humor, which you can find on his Twitter feed (@danielbpalka). He tweets about things like baseball, his all-time favorite TV shows, his love of the Bears, as well as random life experiences, like the time this offseason when an Uber driver asked Palka if he could use his bathroom before driving him to his requested location.

“It was the weirdest thing ever,” Palka explained. “I had just moved into my house. When you think about it, you’re still getting in a car with a random person. It’s already a little uncomfortable for some. And then all of a sudden that random person asks you to use the bathroom. It would be like someone knocking on my door and saying, ‘Hey, can i use your bathroom?’ I don’t care if it was some famous actress. I’d be like, I don’t think so, I’m sorry.”

As for the upcoming season, Palka had two big priorities this winter: improving his outfield defense and dropping some weight. He’s lost 15 pounds.

“I think you’ll definitely see it in my face, but the majority of it was around my gut area and that has receded dramatically, which is nice.”

He did it by cutting out his two favorite foods: bread and pasta.

Speaking as one human being who craves such things, how was he able to do that?

“Because I want to be in the big leagues. That’s pretty much it. I’ll give up anything for that. Whatever I’ve got to do, I’m going to do it,” Palka said.

He’s also been busy at work on his baseball skills, spending four days a week back at Georgia Tech, his alma mater, doing outfield drills, focusing on his footwork.

“In comfort alone, there’s been a pretty big jump. I think I’ve taken about a thousand fly balls by now. It’s definitely paying off.”

He’s excited to attend his very first SoxFest next weekend. He’s hoping to tailgate with White Sox fans during the festivities. Unfortunately, the best place to probably do that might be a neighboring parking garage close to the hotel.

"The parking garage is the best place!” Palka said. “The tighter it is the better because then you get to talk to more people. Then you can’t be shy either. You have to be next to someone you may or may not like.”

And that in a nut shell is Daniel Palka. A man of the people. An instant South Sider who connects with just about anyone, especially White Sox fans who have quickly embraced the burly slugger as one of their own.

How was he able to do it?

“It was fun for me to be able to interact with fans so early that I could be myself,” Palka explained. “I think people appreciate when you’re yourself. You don’t hide what you’re really thinking. I think that was my favorite part. Me being able to be me.”

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