Palka determined to break out of slump

Santana likely to start Tuesday; Jones touches 96 mph

April 7th, 2019

CHICAGO -- This 0-for-21 start to the 2019 season for doesn’t mark the White Sox outfielder’s first slump. And he’s realistic enough to know it won’t be his last as a Major Leaguer.

“I feel like it does happen once a year,” said Palka before Sunday’s series finale with the Mariners. “And the frustrating thing to me is I feel like I've always put myself in a better situation physically and mentally and preparation-wise than I had the year before.

“These things just happen. I'm not going to dwell on it. It's going to turn around. It's not possible to go 0-for-500. I know I have some things that can help this team win. I'm just going to stay positive and keep working toward that.”

Palka is correct about extended slumps coming around at least once per year even for the best of hitters. During his 2018 rookie campaign, where Palka launched 27 home runs and drove in 67 RBIs, he had a 5-for-36 stretch with one homer, five RBIs and 19 strikeouts from June 1 to 14.

Even with last season’s success, Palka doesn’t see too much of a different approach from opposing hurlers. This slump is on him and he needs to take that next step to get past it without trying to do too much with each at-bat.

“Mechanically, everything looks good,” Palka said. “It's just a matter of one dropping in there and getting started. The thing that annoys me most is that I'm not contributing to wins. I want to give the guys high fives on my side, too. It's just a matter of staying positive. Not much else to say about it.”

Santana ready to go

The White Sox have yet to officially announce a starting pitcher for Tuesday night against the Rays, although it would be a major surprise if it was anyone but . The veteran right-hander threw in two Minor League intrasquad games in Arizona after the team broke camp, going 90 pitches in the first outing and somewhere around 50 in the second as what amounted to his last two Spring Training appearances.

“Everything is pretty good, working the way I wanted,” Santana said. “I am excited, especially with the group of guys we have in the clubhouse. It’s going to be fun.”

Santana will earn $4.3 million in ’19 as part of the Major League roster. He’s coming off an ’18 campaign with the Twins where he made five starts, allowing nine home runs and 22 earned runs over 24 2/3 innings. But with the middle finger on his pitching hand completely healthy after surgery last season, Santana feels different.

“Big difference, because last year I was hurt and this year, I’m not,” Santana said. “Big difference to just be myself right now and playing catch and all the throwing.

“Everything feels good. Last year, I have a little bit of a restriction in my finger but this year I don’t have any.”

Jones takes a step up

Having a good season from Nate Jones and Jace Fry is an integral part to a potentially improved White Sox bullpen. Jones took a step forward Saturday against the Mariners, touching 96 mph with his fastball and striking out two in one inning of relief.

“He looked a little better yesterday, didn’t he?” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “My only concern would be if he wasn't feeling healthy. He feels really good, so it's more just getting him out there and giving him as many opportunities as possible to see if we can get a feel back for him.”

They said it

“I'm the same me. It's not going to just magically disappear. I feel good about things.” -- Palka on his slump.

“I have a lot of followers too. I’m not a bad guy. If you follow me, I’ll follow you. I don’t discriminate.” -- Santana, who has 179,000 followers on Twitter, as to why he follows 196,000.