GLENDALE, Ariz. — Matt Davidson is eager to get his White Sox career started, and he’s almost there.
But not quite.
Though they acknowledge he’s close to major-league ready, the White Sox optioned their rookie third baseman to Triple-A Charlotte on Sunday to start the season.
The move isn’t unexpected, as the White Sox have said since his December acquisition they want Davidson to continue to refine his developing talent by playing every day. But it also comes near the end of a spring camp that has seen Davidson improve his all-around game with adjustments on both sides of the ball.
Davidson, who has a .308/.341/.564 slash line with two homers and six RBIs, was disappointed, but hardly surprised.
“I always knew it was a possibility,” Davidson said. “I came in and I feel like I put myself in a good spot as far as having a good collective 2014, whether how long I’m in Triple-A or if I was in the big leagues. It was a goal from the start. Obviously I wanted to start in the big leagues, but you can’t always have what you want.”
Davidson isn’t far from being an everyday player.
Both general manager Rick Hahn and manager Robin Ventura said Davidson is, or nearly is, major-league ready. Though scouts question Davidson’s footing in the field, the White Sox have been impressed with his work, including how he has reconfigured his pre-pitch routine. Starting in January, Ventura and third-base coach Joe McEwing had Davidson establish his setup and work on consistently maintaining it in order to get a better jump on balls in play.
Ventura already sees a difference in how Davidson carries himself.
“Confidence level is the biggest thing for him,” Ventura said. “Where he was and to where he is now, even going to the hitter’s camp early before spring training, he’s just better. Once you get confidence in it you enjoy it a little more and that’s a big key for him.”
Despite a slow start at the plate, Davidson seemed certain he could bounce back because his plate appearances had been sporadic to that point. After only two hits in 18 at-bats to start, Davidson is 10-for-21. Hahn said Davidson has made a timing adjustment and the goal now is for him to maintain those alterations at Charlotte.
“We’re absolutely thrilled with where Matt Davidson is right now,” Hahn said. “This decision is about him going down and getting regular reps and being able to show us on a pitch-to-pitch basis that he’s able to maintain those adjustments. We view him as a long-term solution, someone who’s going to part of a successful White Sox club for many years and we really aren’t hung up about whether that starts March 31st or May 1st or August 1st.”
Davidson is headed to Charlotte with the confidence he can play in the majors right now. He has constantly been told he’s part of the team’s long-term vision, which he admits helps to lessen the sting. But as disappointed as he may be, Davidson doesn’t sound as if he’ll let it slow down his path to the majors.
“I’m not done improving,” Davidson said. “I don’t feel like I have reached my full potential at all. I definitely want to reach that and I want to continue working down in Charlotte and I’ll be ready once I get to Chicago. (Hearing that is) reassuring too. Obviously it’s kind of a bummer not starting but when (Hahn) says that, it definitely makes you feel a little better.”