12/17/2013 7:00 P.M. ET
Davidson takes positive long-term view after trade
Swap opens door to opportunity to reach big leagues quicker with White Sox
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- The goal for Matt Davidson, even before he makes his first appearance at Camelback Ranch in mid-February, is to break from Spring Training as the starting White Sox third baseman.
But there's a deeper goal possessed by the 22-year-old slugger that understandably could have him opening the season at Triple-A Charlotte and spending some 2014 time playing with the Knights.
"I want to stick in the big leagues. I don't want to be up and down," said Davidson. "I trust whatever decision they make. Whether it's starting in Triple-A, I'm OK with that. My long-term goal is sticking there."
Davidson must have been listening in on general manager Rick Hahn's Monday conference call, after the White Sox traded closer Addison Reed to the D-backs in exchange for what immediately became the organization's top prospect. Hahn basically wouldn't commit to Davidson as the No. 1 player at third, not with Conor Gillaspie and Jeff Keppinger presently in the mix and, more importantly, Davidson possibly needing more Minor League time to develop.
Hahn did put forth Davidson's same overall premise in that when he arrives, he will be with the White Sox to stay. It's a slightly different feeling than the one the California native had in Arizona.
Martin Prado was locked in at third and National League Most Valuable Player candidate Paul Goldschmidt was set at first. In one move made between the White Sox and D-backs, Davidson went from looking for some sort of on-field fit to becoming part of the White Sox offensive core alongside Avisail Garcia, Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu.
It's a change in mindset that certainly won't change an already strong work ethic. It does give Davidson an extra boost of confidence emanating from the White Sox support.
"You are almost waiting for an injury whenever you get in and maybe put too much pressure on yourself and are trying to prove too much with a handful of at-bats," said Davidson of his previous mindset in Arizona. "It's cool, now you get time to relax and settle down and try to hone your game for the future and the long run."
Power is the name of the game for Davidson, who has hit 80 homers, 150 doubles and posted a .452 slugging percentage over five Minor League seasons. During 76 at-bats with Arizona in '13, Davidson knocked out three homers and six doubles.
His strikeout total surpassed 125 in each of his last four seasons, but Davidson believes they've come more in bunches over a certain series or two. When he gets to a hitter-friendly park such as U.S. Cellular Field, he won't be swinging for the fences. Not when Davidson reiterated a point from Monday that he wants to be a complete hitter who has power.
"I'm always going to be working on improving that because I hate looking at that column," said Davidson of strikeouts. "It's more about my approach and being more consistent where I trust it and stick with that.
"If I stay in a positive approach, a line-drive approach, home runs will start coming. When I try to do too much, like any hitter, you get long and strike out."
Defense at third is another target of improvement for Davidson, but he's made progress since entering the professional ranks as the 35th overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of Yucaipa High School. Davidson admitted that his defense was pretty bad coming out of the Draft and that he learned basic skills such as how to dive on the fly as a Minor Leaguer.
He also made a steadfast promise that even with the steps forward taken over the past few years, Davidson won't stop working. The goal is to be a complete player, as well as a complete hitter.
This development will be taking place for years to come in Chicago, a city Davidson has never visited. The closest he came was playing for South Bend in the Midwest League in 2010.
Making the new start with Eaton, who came to the White Sox as part of a three-team deal sending Hector Santiago to the Angels at the Winter Meetings, will help Davidson ease the transition. One of the good friends of Davidson's mom also just happens to be Aaron Rowand's brother, the same Rowand who helped drive the White Sox 2005 World Series championship run.
Rowand soon can be expecting a call from Davidson to find out a little bit more about the White Sox organization.
"To know I'm wanted. The White Sox organization wanted me so much that they made that trade. Addison is a great closer, had 40 saves," said Davidson, who worked out with Reed at EM Speed and Power Training facility in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., during this offseason.. "It helps a lot that they believe in me. That's what any player wants."