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Davidson works to be D-backs' future at third

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Literally and figuratively, Matt Davidson is hoping to be the next big thing at third base for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Davidson took a big step toward his goal in the summer of 2012, when he hit .261 with 23 home runs and 76 RBIs for the D-backs' Double-A affiliate in Mobile, Ala.

Now, Davidson is getting even more work, playing for the Arizona Fall League's Salt River Rafters.

It is a good situation for Davidson, 21, ranked as the D-backs' No. 4 prospect by The manager of the Rafters is former D-backs third baseman Matt Williams, who has worked with Davidson the last few springs after he was selected 35th overall by Arizona in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.

Because of Davidson's size, there are some who think he might be better suited to play first base, which he has done on occasion. But Paul Goldschmidt appears to be a rising star at first at the big league level, so for now, Davidson is working hard to get better at third.

"Playing in the Fall League has been awesome," said Davidson. "All the guys are cool. All the best prospects are here. The coaching staff is awesome. It's the best thing other than the big leagues. To be selected for this is a great honor."

Through his first six games -- about half of the early schedule -- Davidson was hitting .227 with one home run and five RBIs.

"This [D-backs' Salt River Fields complex] is like home. You have everything you need here," Davidson said. "I'm working with Matty on my defense and I am listening to what [hitting coach Jon] Nunnally has to say. I am learning every aspect of the game."

Davidson has had a lot of coaches give him hitting advice, and said he has been receptive to some of Nunnally's ideas.

"You take what you like from everyone, what works for you," Davidson said. "Most of these coaches say the same thing, but it's the way they say it that gets your attention."

Davidson doesn't think Williams over-analyzes him simply because Williams played the same position.

"[Williams] realizes everybody plays a certain way," Davidson said. "He gives pointers, but he doesn't try to push too much.

"We worked the other day on the placement of my feet. It helps smooth things out. And I'm working at trying to make my hands softer."

Davidson is from Yucaipa, Calif., near San Bernardino, which is about a four-hour drive from metropolitan Phoenix. After the Fall League season, he plans to remain in Scottsdale over the winter to work out and get a head start on the spring.

Doing so at a lighter weight, Davidson said, will help him.

Davidson began last spring a bit heavy, so at the urging of D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, general manager Kevin Towers, and Williams, he dropped about 15 pounds.

"I will work out here with the trainers, too, this winter. I want to do whatever I can to stay at third," Davidson said.

That includes taking one for the team every now and then.

During a recent game, Davidson took a bad-hop shot off his forehead but remained in the game.

Williams has been encouraged by what he has seen from Davidson thus far.

"He might be more of a natural first baseman because of his size, but he has worked very hard to become a good third baseman. There is a need in the organization," Williams said.

"As far as his hitting goes, he has big power. He has hit everywhere he has gone. He can hit with opposite-field power. I talked to Jay [Bell, hitting coach at Mobile], and he said Matt has made great strides with his hitting approach."

Davidson said he enjoys the power game, but he wants to be a complete hitter, cutting down on his strikeouts and moving people over on the bases whenever it is needed.

Davidson also said he has been studying pitchers more and more, looking at their deliveries and "trying to find out more about who I am as a hitter."

"I want to get to the big leagues as soon as I can, but I know I'm not going to hit third or fourth [in the batting order] right away," Davidson said. "I have to learn to do other things."

Don Ketchum is a contributor to
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