SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Baseball is a game of failure. A sport so tough it brings grown men to their knees.
For the last two years, that was where you could find Matt Davidson.
The former first round pick was once thought to be the White Sox third baseman of the future. But then he lost his swing, then his confidence, and then he almost lost his mind.
“These past two years have been such a mental grind. I’ve been in some dark places,” Davidson said Monday in an interview with Comcast SportsNet.
After the White Sox acquired him from the Arizona Diamondbacks, he arrived at spring training hoping to win the third base job. That didn’t happen. So he went to Triple-A hoping for a quick call-up to the big leagues. That didn’t happen either.
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He batted .199 with 164 strikeouts in 2014. Unfortunately, 2015 wasn’t any better. He ended last season batting .203 with 191 strikeouts.
That bright future looked quite bleak.
But this offseason, Davidson went home to California hoping to find himself as well as that powerful swing that once made him one of the top prospects in baseball.
“For me it was all mechanical. My swing was breaking down,” he said. “I had really bad posture the last two years with my swing. Honestly, I fixed that this offseason. Now I’ve kind of had the spring I’ve had. The swing itself has been good, but as far as my body and posture throughout the swing, that was bad and so we fixed that. And then you see the results.”
We see them.
Monday, Davidson hit his fifth home run of the spring (which leads the White Sox), and he raised his batting average to .413.
To save his baseball career, Davidson has had the help of White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson, not to mention former White Sox slugger Jim Thome, who has been with the team during spring training working with young hitters.
“He’s been amazing, just being there for moral support, especially after these past two years. That speaks volumes,” Davidson said about Thome. “We talk about a lot of mental stuff. The little things here and there. Nothing major. He’s really simple and very positive. I think that’s the biggest impact he has. He’s just so positive. He speaks positivity into you.”
With Todd Frazier now entrenched at third base, Davidson seemed to have zero chance of making the team out of spring training. But now with Adam LaRoche retired, and Davidson swinging such a hot bat, he is suddenly in the mix for the final roster spot.
What would it mean to him to make the club after all he’s been through?
“I’ll probably break down and cry to be honest,” Davidson said. “I’ve been through the ringer for two years. Just to see the results and then to even be in the conversation for that is awesome.”
For Davidson, the light has turned on. The White Sox are hoping it stays that way for a long time.