GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Hitting coach Todd Steverson has worked closely with Matt Davidson for more than two years in an attempt to refine his approach at the plate.
They’ve dissected where the White Sox minor-leaguer needs to be, tried to identify problems and searched for solutions.
Finally, something has clicked for Davidson, who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Addison Reed in December 2013. He made several adjustments early in the offseason and spent all but three days hitting. Steverson immediately noticed a difference when Davidson -- who’s hitting .452/.469/.871 with four home runs and seven RBIs in 31 at-bats this spring -- attended a hitter’s mini-camp here in January.
“That was probably the first time where I was like, ‘OK. I like that,’ ” Steverson said. “ ‘That’s right on line with what we’ve all been talking about. How did you end up getting there?’"
Two years of inconsistency have gotten him here. Two chances at September callups on losing teams with no solutions at third that have been submarined by too many strikeouts and a sub-.675 OPS have pushed him. He has gone from the team’s third baseman of the future to watching as they traded for Todd Frazier in December.
But he’s here. And as one AL scout said, Davidson’s swing is simpler and allows him to tap into his power -- the 24-year-old’s best asset -- more easily.
Davidson said it’s the product of his offseason program as he identified a way to work effectively and has stuck to it.
“It’s really just hard work, doing the routine every day,” Davidson said. “I get out there every day at the same time and battle it out and no matter how I’m feeling or whatever, I’m making sure to get that work in. I heard a quote that “try to come in and learn your swing new like you’ve never done it before, like it’s a new skill. So I’ve kind of taken that in to my day and learning it from the ground up every single day.”
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
Suddenly, Davidson is in the mix for the final bench spot on the White Sox 25-man roster --- “that’s part of the discussions,” manager Robin Ventura said. He, Travis Ishikawa, Jerry Sands and Carlos Sanchez are vying for the final spot.
Unlike Sands, Davidson does have minor-league options left, which could hurt him. The team also may wish to see Davidson continue to produce this way at Triple-A Charlotte.
But there’s no question that Davidson has opened some eyes. Ventura believes the past two years may be powering these changes.
“Sometimes that can be the end of it, and I think he’s used it for the good,” Ventura said. “You can use it as fuel to be able to ride it out the rest of your career, knowing you’re able to handle it and get over it and shorten stretches that are like that.
“You’re seeing a different guy.”
Said Davidson: “I knew that this was a pretty big year and I needed to make some changes and really spend some quality time with myself and the bat in the cage and I did that and I kind of figured some things out.”
Curious by the change, Steverson wanted to know how Davidson had reached this point. Steverson is more than satisfied with the answers. He has since been convinced by seeing the work that has gone in and the results that have come out it. Steverson is hopeful he’ll continue to see more of the same.
“He kind of explained it real quick,” Steverson said. “I said ‘Good, as long you’re comfortable with it I’m in.’ He stuck with it and half the battle is sticking with something. Obviously, coming out and being able to put it forth in the game is kind of like the cream on top of the cake. He knows what he wants to do now. He has a definitive routine in the cage. He has a definitive thought process. Hopefully it translates into the ability the organization figured he had when we made the trade for him. For me, he’s doing exactly what he needs to do.