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Smith leaning on Palka for pop advice

September 28, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS -- At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Kevan Smith knows there's more power in his game than the six home runs and 23 doubles he's connected on over parts of three big league seasons.As part of the process to tap into that power, Smith has worked with and picked the

MINNEAPOLIS -- At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Kevan Smith knows there's more power in his game than the six home runs and 23 doubles he's connected on over parts of three big league seasons.
As part of the process to tap into that power, Smith has worked with and picked the brain of Daniel Palka, the team leader in home runs and the most power-packed hitter on the roster.
"I've taught him everything he knows," said Palka of Smith, with perfect deadpan delivery. "We started doing that a month ago, and I feel like both of us have kind of made a little step up. He's driving balls to left field that I hadn't seen him do since we were in [Triple-A] Charlotte. Not to say what he was doing before didn't work, because he was a great hitter."
"Obviously he's a big leg-kick guy, and just a big thing with him is he just wants to see the ball and hit it as hard as he can," Smith said of Palka. "But the thing I picked up with him is a little bit of technique."
Smith talked about how high Palka's leg kick gets, but he added Palka pauses at the top of his leg kick and sits there waiting. That leg kick was employed by Smith when he hit a three-run home run off Jose Quintana in this past Friday's series opener against the Cubs. Smith also put it to use later in the game on his double to right.
Strikeouts will increase for a solid contact hitter such as Smith in a quest for more power. He acknowledges that part becomes the toughest adjustment.
"When you are swinging hard, you are obviously looking to do damage and have to accept strikeout numbers are going to come up," Smith said. "I've never been a strikeout guy.
"To strike out is tough for me. But even in college, my coaches would always say, 'You have the luxury of being selective your first two [strikes],' and then worst case, I take those two strikes and see what kind of damage I can do and then hunker down into my two-strike approach and put the ball in play."
Coaches should return
All of manager Rick Renteria's coaching staff is under contract for the 2019 season, per general manager Rick Hahn, and the group is expected to return.
"There's a high likelihood, yes," said Renteria prior to Friday's doubleheader. "[Hahn] has talked about sitting down and going over everybody. I would say once we have our conversations, there's a high likelihood you're going to see everybody back.
"I like all the guys that I have. In the due course of process, I guess, we'll still sit down and talk and go over everything, but I like all my guys."
Both Hahn and Renteria mentioned potential outside managerial interest could change the staff outlook, with bench coach Joe McEwing having been interviewed in the past.
"There could be interest. There are a lot of things opening up," Renteria said. "I believe that we've got a few guys here that are certainly qualified to at least get an opportunity to present themselves, for sure."
Third to first
• Smith will have surgery on his right ankle after the season.
"Nothing structurally I have to worry about," Smith said. "I'm looking forward to it. My ankle will move better for me, and obviously, everything we do is from the ground up, so my knees, hips -- everything will feel better."
• Renteria donated 200 tickets for Sunday's game to children who are being treated at Hennepin County Medical Center. The ticket donation is a thank you from Renteria to the staff who were involved with his care while he was a patient last month. He also sent a shipment of Nuts on Clark "Chicago mix" popcorn. He missed four games from Aug. 20-23 due to lightheadedness.
"In talking to the front office in Chicago, they mentioned it might be a good idea to try to do something here in reflection of gratitude for how they treated me," Renteria said. "There should be some kids here, hopefully enjoying the ballgame."

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