SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training on Tuesday and Matt Davidson was right there with them. A corner infielder by trade, Davidson will get some time on the mound as well.But he is not coming here with visions of pitching grandeur or some false vision
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training on Tuesday and Matt Davidson was right there with them. A corner infielder by trade, Davidson will get some time on the mound as well.
But he is not coming here with visions of pitching grandeur or some false vision of who he is on the mound. Davidson is here because he is a right-handed power hitter who can play first and third base.
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His idea of pitching is filling the same role he had with the White Sox. That involves being ready if the game gets out of hand or the rest of the bullpen needs a brief respite after a particularly taxing stretch.
"I don't want to make it sound like I am going to the big leagues and be a good pitcher," Davidson said. "I'm not trying to be one of the seven or eight relievers. I want to be the pitchers' best friend. Nobody wants to go in when it is a 7-0 blowout. I want to be the guy that helps them out."
Davidson had three scoreless appearances for the White Sox last season. He also hit 20 home runs while splitting time between designated hitter, first and third base. The only two Major League players to hit at least 20 home runs in a season and make three appearances on the mound were Babe Ruth in 1919 and Shohei Ohtani last year.
"I just had the time of my life out there," Davidson said. "I'm not just coming here to hang out, but I think there's that value of a two-way player and helping the pitchers out. It's like, 'Hey, we're gassed. Throw Matt in there.'"
Chavez returns with better form
Jesse Chavez is back for his second Spring Training with the Rangers. He made the team as a long reliever last year, but should have a bigger role this season based on the adjustments he made.
Chavez had a 5.48 ERA through 12 games for the Rangers before having a long Mothers Day conversation with pitching coach Doug Brocail, assistant Dan Warthen and bullpen coach Hector Ortiz. Chavez felt he would be better served by lowering his arm slot and his coaches agreed.
The results were almost magical. Chavez, traded to the Cubs on July 17, had a 1.70 ERA in his final 50 games while holding opposing hitters to a .202 batting average. He ended up in a late-inning relief role for the Cubs.
"I just lowered my arm slot a little bit and ended up getting more natural action with it," Chavez said. "The more repetition I got, the better my command got to all quadrants of the zone. Then it was up to me not to mess it up. I didn't take a day off with it. If I threw two games in a row, I still had to feel the mound a little bit just to feel my consistency of what I was working on."
• Veteran right-hander Edinson Vólquez, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, said he threw four bullpen sessions in the Dominican Republic before coming to Arizona and they went well. Volquez said he let the ball "fly" in his last two sessions.
"I'm doing good," Volquez said. "I'm ready to test my arm and see how it goes facing hitters, more bullpens and real games. I am not sure but the way it feels now, it will be good."
• The first full-squad workout will be Monday, but many hitters have already shown up, including Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo, Delino DeShields, Shin-Soo Choo, Rougned Odor, Ronald Guzmán, Christian Lopes, Willie Calhoun and Patrick Wisdom.
• There are four players in camp who were selected in the first or supplemental round of the 2009 MLB Draft: catcher Tony Sanchez (4th overall, Pirates), Mike Minor (7th, Braves), Shelby Miller (19th, Cardinals) and Davidson (35th, D-backs). The Rangers' picks that year were Matt Purke (14th) and Tanner Scheppers (44th).
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.