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Palka's power shines in rebuilding year

McEwing remembers 9/11; Jones comes off 60-day DL
MLB.com @scottmerkin

KANSAS CITY -- Call him the Punisher. Or maybe you prefer Palka Power.

Whatever the description, both the eye test and the Statcast™ numbers back up Daniel Palka as one of the hardest hitters in all of baseball. But the White Sox outfielder, who entered Tuesday tied with Jose Abreu for the team lead at 22 home runs, wants to be so much more.

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KANSAS CITY -- Call him the Punisher. Or maybe you prefer Palka Power.

Whatever the description, both the eye test and the Statcast™ numbers back up Daniel Palka as one of the hardest hitters in all of baseball. But the White Sox outfielder, who entered Tuesday tied with Jose Abreu for the team lead at 22 home runs, wants to be so much more.

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"Yeah, that stuff, it's cool and I feel like it's a good sign," said Palka during a recent interview. "For me, it's more like I not only want to do more but I need to do more to stick here.

"I've got to be more consistent because the 30 at-bats where you are hitting .500 is great. But when you have the next 30 and you are hitting .100, you've got to make an adjustment."

Video: DET@CWS: Palka clubs a game-tying homer in the 9th

The left-handed hitting Palka, who was claimed off waivers from Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2017, ranks third among American League rookies with 22 home runs, 57 RBIs and 39 extra-base hits (tied). His 22 homers are tied with Pete Ward (1963) for the most by a left-handed hitting rookie in White Sox history.

According to Statcast™, Palka's 108.6-mph average exit velocity on his home runs is third-highest in MLB of the 213 hitters with 10-plus homers. He narrowly trails Giancarlo Stanton (108.8) and Gary Sanchez (108.7).

His nine homers of 110-plus mph are tied for fourth-most, while 11.2 percent of his batted balls have been 110 mph or greater, ranking him fifth in the big leagues. All three of these rankings are out of 255 hitters with at least 200 batted balls.

In a rebuild year when players not among the elite prospects have had a chance to prove their value, Palka has run with the opportunity.

"It's not the No. 1 thing in my mind, but any time you are mentioned with Stanton, it's pretty cool," Palka said. "It's just a matter of getting away from wanting to do it every pitch. I need to pick my spots, when to be a little more aggressive. I need to keep being more productive and wait for people to attack me instead of trying to take the bait."

Video: BOS@CWS: Palka homers shortly after a near-miss

McEwing remembers 9/11
White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing was an integral part of the New York Mets 17 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001. He remembers the team being in Pittsburgh at the time of the unspeakable atrocities taking place on that day in New York, and also remembers his feelings the first time the Mets came by bus back into the city following the terrorist attacks.

"Humbling," McEwing said. "We turned on the Jersey Turnpike at 8:30 or 9 o'clock at night, and it was completely black with nobody on the roads. And for me, growing up in the East Coast, you never see that. I don't care if it's 3 or 4 in the morning, you never see that. You never see blank road way.

"We turned and when you saw the first glimpse of the city, you saw all the smoke from all the rubble and you couldn't see the skyline for the first time. You are sitting there just breathless, just trying to take in what literally just happened.

"When we were going over the GW (George Washington Bridge), the toll booths were lined with tanks and armed forces with machine guns, and for that moment, you knew your life was going to change forever," McEwing said. "It made a lot of people understand and be thankful for what they have and understanding that was going to change from that moment on."

McEwing and his Mets teammates would work out at Shea Stadium and then help the firefighters and police officers stationed at the ballpark who were being sent to the site of attack for assistance.

"One of the biggest accomplishments in my baseball career, as far as moment wise, was being able to be part of the relief efforts to help out, to give back, in any possible way we could," McEwing said. "It changed my life and changed America forever."

Jones officially returns
The White Sox returned Nate Jones from his injury rehabilitation assignment with Class A Winston-Salem and reinstated him from the 60-day disabled list prior to Tuesday's contest. Jones, 32, was placed on the disabled list June 13 with a pronator muscle strain in his right arm.

Jones is 2-2 with a 2.55 ERA, four saves, six holds, 27 strikeouts over 24 2/3 innings and a .215 opponents average in 27 relief appearances this season, his seventh with the White Sox. He has not pitched in a game since June 12 vs. Cleveland, but Jones talked Monday about being close to a return. With the move, the White Sox active roster increases to 32 and the 40-man increases to 40.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Daniel Palka