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In My Words: Palka on rookie success

September 4, 2018

I'm mad it's September and there's only one month left in the season. People say to me, "It's almost the offseason," like that's a good thing. I'm like, "Shut up. I don't want to hear it." The offseason is not as good as being here, playing in the big leagues,

I'm mad it's September and there's only one month left in the season. People say to me, "It's almost the offseason," like that's a good thing. I'm like, "Shut up. I don't want to hear it." The offseason is not as good as being here, playing in the big leagues, playing for the White Sox.
I was excited when the White Sox picked me up. I felt like this is a great place to get my foot in the door and solidify who I am as a baseball player. Since they were a young team, I knew I could be myself. I didn't have to tiptoe around. I could fit in with these dudes.
At the end of April, I got called up and made my Major League debut. I didn't feel pressure. I took it as, "I'm going to do whatever the team needs me to do." That's how you stick here. This is what I've wanted all my life, so I'm not going to sit around and be scared when it happens. I felt like, "I don't care if I'm only in the big leagues for one day, I'm going to act like I always belonged here."
From a personal standpoint, it doesn't surprise me that I have had some success this year. I feel like it is even a little less than what I know I can do. I'm very confident in that aspect. My goal is to be a complete hitter. The RBIs and power numbers are great, but I don't want home runs with 200 strikeouts. The more I'm hitting, the more I'm scoring, the more they need me in the lineup.

It's hard to explain, but when you get here, you really realize who you are as a baseball player. Then you have to figure out what you've got to do to make the adjustments. You go on a hot streak, and you think, "I can hit anything they throw." Then I get a little aggressive, and I'm swinging at rosin bags. You have to pull yourself back in. I expect to be able to make the adjustments.
My walk-off homer to beat Cleveland, 1-0, on Aug. 10 was awesome. I had three strikeouts in the game when I came up in the ninth inning. I wasn't thinking, "I have three strikeouts. I could have four." It was more like, "I could end the game." The whole time running around the bases, I couldn't believe I hit that pitch. It was about 1 1/2 feet outside. I knew right away it was gone. It's something I'll never forget.
It's been a big year for me. I definitely know what I am zeroing in on. I have a plan. I've never had an offseason where I was thinking, "I'm not ready to play in the big leagues." The difference is now I know 100 percent what I need to do to succeed here.
As told to Ed Sherman.

Daniel Palka is an outfielder for the White Sox.