White Sox 3B contender Matt Davidson focuses on ‘using the whole field’
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter February 16, 2014 10:02PM
Updated: March 18, 2014 6:28AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Third-base prospect Matt Davidson has been spending quality time with new hitting coach Todd Steverson. It’s a get-acquainted process, sure, but there is also work to be done.
An early arrival at camp — position players aren’t required to report to spring training until Thursday, but he’s has been here for about two weeks — Davidson said he’s been working on hitting to all fields. He knows his strength is home run and doubles power, so the temptation to become pull happy must be avoided.
But not at all costs.
“Me and ‘Trick’ have been [working on] using the whole field,’’ Davidson said. “I kind of got away from that the last couple years, pulling a lot of balls and whatnot. So just trying to use the whole field and hopefully the average goes up and the strikeouts [go down and] stuff.’’
Not that Davidson, who hit .280 with 17 homers and 32 doubles while driving in 74 runs in 115 games for Class AAA Reno in the Pacific Coast League last year, is overly concerned about the whiffs. He fanned 134 times at Reno and another 24 times in 76 at-bats for the Diamondbacks (while batting .237 with three homers, six doubles and 12 RBI) last season.
“I feel the game has changed a little bit where a lot of guys are striking out a little more,’’ Davidson said. “That’s just the player I am. I’m not going to strike out 20 times and be a speedster. I’m not getting any infield hits, so I’m going to try and drive the ball every at-bat.’’
Davidson comes to the Sox with a high pedigree. The former first-round draft pick is ranked as the No. 80 prospect in baseball by MLB.com. He has a shot to make the 25-man roster, but the position is crowded with 2013 holdovers Jeff Keppinger and Conor Gillaspie in the mix. General manager Rick Hahn said Davidson’s chances hinge on “more than numbers.’’
“It’s how he looks, how he approaches each of his at-bats, how he looks defensively, talking to him the look in his eye, how he fits,’’ Hahn said. “It’s probably a little more art than science, but that’s one of the things this spring that will be fun to watch in terms of his development — how we project out to where he can get to and what’s the best path to get him to max out that ceiling of his that we feel is very high.’’