White Sox

Daniel Palka doesn't feel like he has to prove anything to former team

Daniel Palka doesn't feel like he has to prove anything to former team

Daniel Palka didn’t have time to be disappointed when the Twins designated him for assignment in November — because he had no idea it had happened.

Phone service was spotty in Venezuela where Palka was playing winter ball and it was the White Sox who eventually informed the 26-year-old that they had claimed him off waivers.

“I found out from them and it was a great day,” Palka said before the Sox faced the Twins on Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field. “It was great for me to become the player I am with the Twins with the help from certain coaches they have but at that point, I was in a good enough position to create my own destiny.”

That destiny not only landed him with the Sox, but as the cleanup hitter in their lineup when they faced Palka’s former organization Wednesday.

“It’s definitely surreal,” Palka said. “You have all your hopes and aspirations but you don’t know what’s going to happen. But it happened.”

It took a while as Palka failed to impress Sox hierarchy enough in spring training to land a roster spot but he eventually got the call to the big-leagues April 24 when Avisail Garcia was placed on the disabled list. On Wednesday, Garcia hit behind Palka in the heart of the order.

Since his recall, Palka has flashed the kind of raw power that can keep a player in the lineup. His quick hands and strength have placed him among the leaders in baseball in exit velocity. Palka has the fifth-fastest exit velocity on a ball hit in the majors this season when he ripped a double off the Twins’ Fernando Romero on June 6 that came off the bat at 118.4 mph.

“I have no idea where it comes from, it just comes,” Palka said of his bat speed. “I just want to be consistent with at bats and just produce, whether it’s RBIs or scoring runs. If I can do that more than the average guy is doing, then that’s going to keep me around.”

Entering Wednesday’s game, Palka was slashing .242/.286/.455 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs.

“He’s got a lightning-quick bat,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “He can put the ball out of the ballpark as easily as anybody. He’s learning the major-league game is a little bit different than coning up through the minor-leagues but he’s got certainly a skillset. He’s learning (and) he’s adjusting. He knows that pitchers are adjusting to him now and I think he’s got the mindset and the wherewithal to continue to make adjustments and hopefully find a base of consistency that will allow him to remain here for as long as he can.”

Palka said he wasn’t using the start against his former organization as motivation in the final two games of the series.

“No, they know what kind of player I am now and they knew what I was then,” Palka said. “I have nothing to prove, nothing to lay on the line for them. There are a couple of guys over there that really helped me excel this offseason and I’m thankful for that. Other than that, it’s all love and competition.”

MLB rumors: Marcus Stroman a potential White Sox target come free agency?

MLB rumors: Marcus Stroman a potential White Sox target come free agency?

In this jumbled-up baseball calendar, it shouldn’t be surprising that free-agent rumors are starting to fly before the 2020 season has even started. In May.

Free agency could be one of the many things that looks way different than we’re used to due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With teams expected to see a steep decline in revenue without paying customers in the stands this year, free-agent spending could take a hit.

But there are certain to be free agents, nonetheless, and after a busy round of free agency last offseason, could the White Sox be active again? That will depend a great deal on how a 2020 season plays out and whether it exposes any needs as the team attempts to make its leap into contention mode.

Already, though, they’re being speculated as a team that could jump into the bidding for free-agent-to-be Marcus Stroman, starting pitcher for the New York Mets.

Jim Bowden, the former general manager now working for The Athletic and CBS Sports, said he "wouldn't be surprised" if the White Sox ended up as one of the teams, along with the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels, with interest in Stroman when he hits the market after the 2020 campaign.

Now, the White Sox just inked Dallas Keuchel to a big free-agent contract last winter and hope they can fill out the rest of their rotation with some of the high-ceiling arms at both the major league and minor league levels.

Lucas Giolito figures to have a rotation spot on lockdown for the foreseeable future after emerging as an All Star and the ace of the staff in 2019. The team has high hopes for Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech, who have made only a combined 18 big league starts. Reynaldo Lopez remains an option if he can solve his issues with consistency, and Carlos Rodon, Dane Dunning and Jimmy Lambert are all on the mend from Tommy John surgery and could factor into those starting-pitching plans.

RELATED: Top 20 MLB Draft prospects: Who will White Sox pick at No. 11?

The 29-year-old Stroman, though, could offer some more security — and certainly some more big league experience — should those unknowns stay unknowns once the White Sox get to the offseason. His results have fluctuated somewhat from season to season. He was excellent for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017, with a 3.09 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 33 starts, winning a Gold Glove and finishing in the top 10 of the AL Cy Young vote. The following season, in just 19 starts, his ERA was up over 5.50.

But last season, he bounced back again, making the All-Star team thanks to a sub-3.00 ERA in 21 starts with the Blue Jays before being dealt to the Mets, where he posted a 3.77 ERA in 11 starts.

Bowden pointed out that the Mets likely wouldn’t being willing to pay Stroman, much like they let Zack Wheeler walk last offseason. The White Sox attempted to bring Wheeler aboard on a big-money free-agent deal, but he turned down their richer offer to pitch closer to home with the Philadelphia Phillies.

If the White Sox were interested in Stroman, they might be smart to run it by star shortstop Tim Anderson. The two had a tiff of sorts during a 2017 game, with Anderson stepping out of the batter’s box during an at-bat, ruffling Stroman’s feathers and leading to some on-field jawing that caused the benches to clear on the South Side.

“Just the way he carried himself, I felt like I felt disrespected,” Anderson said. “I had to do what I had to do. Just, when I stepped out when he was going slowly, he said a few words. I kind of let it go, and then after he struck me out, he mumbled something else.

“He’s going to try to throw me off, so why not step out and try to throw him off? It was one of those things, I stepped out and he just complains and cries like he always does. That’s what it led to.”

But winning has a way of dissolving any bad blood, and if the two ended up teammates on a team with the ability to win a division and compete for a World Series, it seems something like that could be easily forgotten.

Depending on how things shake out this year, and what state the starting rotation is in come winter, maybe Stroman could be a consideration for Rick Hahn’s front office.

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Royals' Brad Keller expected boos from White Sox fans but heard 'crickets'

Royals' Brad Keller expected boos from White Sox fans but heard 'crickets'

White Sox fans aren’t too fond of Royals pitcher Brad Keller, not after he intentionally hit Tim Anderson post-bat flip last season.

In the weeks following the bat flip, the plunking and the benches clearing, Keller caught tons of heat from South Siders on social media. But he was surprised he didn’t get a more negative reaction the next time he came to Guaranteed Rate Field.

Keller drilled Anderson on April 17 and pitched at the corner of 35th and Shields a month later, May 28. He was expecting White Sox fans to let him have it. But apparently he didn’t hear much.

“I get tagged in everything (on social media,” Keller said during an appearance on The Charity Stripe podcast. “I got called every name under the sun after that, cuss words that I didn't even know what they were. They were just ripping me to shreds.

“But what was so funny is when we went back to Chicago, I didn't get booed, I didn't get called anything when I ran out to the mound. Nothing happened. For them being so passionate and loyal on social media, there was nothing at the game. I was expecting full-on (cursing and screaming). I was ready for it.

“In the visitor's bullpen (at Guaranteed Rate Field), there's a bar like underneath us just to the right. There's like a screen. You can't see in it, but they can see you. I was fully expecting, because everyone's drunk down there — it's kind of a sick place to watch a game — I was fully expecting for people to just wear me out. And there was crickets.

“One dude said one thing, and the girl he was with smacked the shit out of him, like I could hear it from the bullpen. It was hilarious. So I was fully expecting everything to come out. Nothing really happened.”

RELATED: Tim Anderson and the Royals stir up baseball's never-ending debate: 'You want him to not do that? Get him out'

Now, while this is almost sure to rev White Sox fans’ engines even more for the next time they’re able to greet Keller on the South Side, it also serves as a nice lesson in treating your fellow human beings with respect, especially online. Keller didn’t get the same treatment at the park he did on social media because the things people say on social media are things they’d rarely say to someone’s face. And that’s as good an indication as any that they shouldn’t be said at all.

Keller, too, could maybe use a reminder, not for what he said but what he did: throwing a projectile at another person because he didn’t like the way he celebrated. It goes all ways.

However, such lessons are unlikely to completely spare Keller the next time he pitches in front of fans at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Under Major League Baseball’s proposed altered schedule for a shortened 2020 season, the White Sox would face the Royals 13 times. That’s fewer games than during a normal season, but it’s a much greater percentage of the schedule. Almost 16 percent of the White Sox games would come against the Royals.

But it’s also expected that those games will be played in empty stadiums. So Keller will likely hear those same “crickets” if he pitches on the South Side this season.

As for 2021? It will probably be a little louder.

 

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