Palka confident, snaps 0-for-21 with hit vs. KC

September 12th, 2019

CHICAGO -- Even if didn’t want a constant reminder of his disappointing individual offensive results during the 2019 season, the ballpark scoreboards can’t lie.

“You have these [huge] scoreboards now. It’s kind of hard to miss it,” Palka told prior to logging an infield single for his second hit of the season in Thursday's 6-3 loss to the Royals in the series finale at Guaranteed Rate Field. “It’s in the back of your mind.

“But realistically, every at-bat is a new start for me right now. That’s really all you can do.”

Palka’s offensive futility is an astonishing tale on a couple of levels. The left-handed slugger, who knocked out 27 home runs as a breakout, charismatic White Sox rookie in 2018, has gone 2-for-57 with six walks and 23 strikeouts this season -- resulting in a slash line of .035/.141/.035. He ended an 0-for-21 drought with that hit against the Royals, who have allowed both of Palka’s hits in 2019.

During his time this season with Triple-A Charlotte, though, Palka hit .263/.374/.527 with 23 doubles, 27 home runs and 72 RBIs in 106 games. So the ability has not suddenly disappeared from the 27-year-old.

The way in which Palka has handled these tough times is even more amazing than the lack of results themselves. He’s an exceedingly positive young man, even in the worst of tough times, and he won’t allow a bad season on the field to define him.

As for his confidence, it’s as strong as ever.

“One hundred percent. The highest,” Palka said. “If you don’t believe you are the best one out there, then you shouldn’t be out there. You shouldn’t be here. If you don’t get [excited] to play, you shouldn’t be here.

“It’s a crazy bad stretch, but I sit there and look at it, and know what I can do, what I can contribute, and I mean, regardless, I’m going to look back and be, like, '50 at-bats made me a better player than what I was before.' As corny as it sounds, it’s 100 percent true. I like playing every day, but I also like the role I’ve had here. I just enjoy being on the team.”

While Palka remains the picture of confidence sitting in front of his clubhouse locker, pressing at the plate becomes a natural reaction to these sorts of struggles. Pressing at the plate might come from an 0-for-15 stretch, let alone what Palka has endured.

That type of internal pressure becomes a main reason for the difference in Palka's results between Charlotte and the White Sox this season, per manager Rick Renteria.

“Probably wanting to do too much, trying to reassess and prove to everybody that he's what he was last year,” Renteria said. “You have to take a deep breath, take a step back and just be yourself, try to get pitches in the zone. That's what he's tried to do since he's been here.

“He hasn't had the success that he's looking for. But those are the things that he's trying to do, and ultimately, bat to ball, when he gets it, he can get a pretty good swing on it, put a charge in it and hit it out of the ballpark. You still have to make contact, and it has more to do with approach than anything else.”

Palka recently said he feels “better now than I have the whole season.” He has worked diligently with Charlotte hitting coach Frank Menechino, who Palka describes as a perfectionist, and he feels ready to prove his value all over again from opening day of Spring Training in 2020.

There’s no certainty whether that spring stage will be with the White Sox, but Palka isn’t trying to figure out the roster crunch. He has learned from this season, but he won’t dwell on it at the conclusion.

“You just have to move on from it and that’s it." Palka said. "I’m not really one to sit there and look back. I like moving forward, good and bad. We are lucky enough to play this game.

“We are lucky enough to have enough talent to be here, and there’s so many crazier things happening everywhere. You just have to remember this is a job. You have to enjoy it. As ironic as it is to say, because it does affect you, you just have to leave it here and keep working.”