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White Sox 3B Matt Davidson looks to stay for Opening Day

Updated: March 5, 2014 11:10PM



GLENDALE, Ariz. — Matt Davidson is going to strike out a lot. Get used to it.

He’s also going to hit it out of the park a lot if he continues on this same path that projects him to be an every-day third baseman in the major leagues. Perhaps this season.

He reminds Jim Thome of a young third baseman he once knew as a kid. That would be Thome himself, who went on to hit 612 career homers. He also struck out 2,548 times.

“I can’t say it never bothered me because striking out is failure,’’ Thome said Wednesday. “But as you age, you realize it’s part of the game. There is upside to his game, and that’s power. Instantly, he can put runs on the board with one swing. That’s what I tried to remember. Yeah, I might strike out two, three times in a game, but there might be one time where I get that big extra-base hit that scores three runs with one swing.’’

No one is comparing Davidson, a right-handed hitter, to the lefty-swinging Thome, who is destined for the Hall of Fame. If the Sox get a steady production line of 20-plus homers and 70-80 RBI from the highly thought-of prospect for years to come, they’ll be glad they traded closer Addison Reed for him.

“You look at his age, there’s a lot of upside,’’ said Thome, a special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn. “I like his size [6-2, 225]. But the thing that stands out is his power. A young, good-looking power bat.’’

The Sox are giving Davidson a good look in the desert. The most logical scenario has him starting the season in the minor leagues. But if he has a good spring, he could tempt them into trying him as their every-day third baseman from the get-go.

“I want to start in the big leagues,’’ Davidson said. “That’s my goal. But I only have control to a certain point and want to make sure wherever Opening Day is, I’m ready for it.’’

To that end, Davidson is taking at-bats in preparation mode for a season, not as one looking to jack anything and everything out of the park in hopes of making a splash.

He has a double in six Cactus League at-bats. And after enduring two strikeouts against the Royals on Monday, Davidson said he gleaned something from each K.

“It’s easy to swing at a first-pitch fastball and get out of there, but I would rather see five or six pitches right now and strike out rather than get a fastball on the first pitch and pop out or fly out,’’ he said.

Davidson, who flied out to center in his only at-bat Wednesday, knows he’s going to see a lot of first-pitch fastballs, and they’re the easiest pitches to hit in the Cactus League.

“I saw every pitch the guy had,’’ he said. “I laid off some changeups and good sliders. My favorite pitch was laying off a 2-2 changeup by [Tim] Collins that was down. I laid off it really well.

“I could swing at first-pitch fastballs every time and get hits, but I’m taking the process and I’m wanting that more than, ‘Yeah, I got hits, but they’re all first-pitch fastball,’ and all of sudden it’s April, and I haven’t seen enough off-speed pitches.’’

Davidson also saw three consecutive sliders from Jeremy Guthrie at three speeds after the first six hitters saw first-pitch fastballs. Maybe something to file for an American League Central game that counts.

That’s what the good hitters do, and Davidson said if it has worked for Paul Konerko, it’s good enough for him.

The Sox just want Davidson to play and get that experience.

“I like that he has an approach,’’ Thome said. “At his age, that he has a plan and wants to see pitches, that’s impressive.’’

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @CST_soxvan



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