Daniel Palka is no longer 0-for-2019.
But he got a ticket to Triple-A anyway Wednesday, sent down to Charlotte after picking up his first hit of the season in the White Sox loss to the Kansas City Royals.
Palka began the year 0-for-32 before getting a pinch-hit single in the seventh inning of Wednesday's game. It wasn't the kind of smash that forecasted a 180-degree turnaround, just a bouncer through a shifted infield. With that monkey off his back, he's off to Triple-A, where the White Sox hope he can rediscover the magic that led to 27 home runs in his rookie season in 2018.
"Just to see if we can get him back on track," manager Rick Renteria said of the thinking behind the decision. "He's been grinding and working really, really hard to try to put himself in a good position for us. We just told him to keep his head up, get some at-bats, put himself in a good position and be ready to go when we make the call.
"He's been really pushing and grinding and trying to get himself back on track. Fortunately he got the base hit, but we want him to be the Palka we've all seen before. Just being able to get back down there and release a little bit of the pressure will allow him to play and get back on track."
Renteria stuck with Palka through these early season struggles, even in a somewhat crowded outfield. But it took until the season's 18th game for Palka to finally pick up his first hit.
Palka, it should be noted, kept his spirits high and even had a few good one-liners after the move was made Wednesday, commenting that he probably would have sent himself down sooner than this.
"The numbers kind of speak for themselves," he said. "So, you know, competitively speaking, I myself would have done it earlier. I’m glad I got a chance. I’ll be working.
"I feel good. The comfort is there. It’s some real minuscule stuff and I’m ready to get back playing every day. I’m excited.
"Ultimately I just gotta get back on my game. That’s all it is. So, the plan is to go down and get back in rhythm and when they need a bat, hopefully I’m that bat."
While the White Sox sending one of their starting position players down to Triple-A just a couple weeks into the season would normally be cause for alarm, this isn't the most surprising outcome to those who have watched the first few weeks of the season.
There were plenty of questions surrounding Palka when the season began. Despite those 27 long balls, he still had a lot to work on, both defensively and offensively. His on-base percentage last year was under .300. He'll get a chance to do that work now in Charlotte, and it wouldn't be at all surprising to see him back at some point, especially if he can start thumping again and the White Sox lineup needs a power boost.
In the outfield, Ryan Cordell could return from Triple-A to take over as the everyday right fielder beside Eloy Jimenez and Leury Garcia. Or perhaps Garcia shoves over to right on a regular basis and Adam Engel gets an extended shot as the everyday center fielder. Eventually, Jon Jay will return from the injured list, though there's been no indication from Renteria or anyone else as to when that might be.
For Palka, the task is simple: figure things out. If he can do that, he could return to the South Side and give this another go.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.