GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The road to the Major Leagues featured many a pothole for Matt Davidson since being traded to the White Sox prior to the 2014 campaign.So why should this Spring Training not feature a bump or two for the power-packed third baseman to navigate?Davidson entered camp in as
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The road to the Major Leagues featured many a pothole for Matt Davidson since being traded to the White Sox prior to the 2014 campaign.
So why should this Spring Training not feature a bump or two for the power-packed third baseman to navigate?
Davidson entered camp in as strong a place as he had been over the past four years. His swing was rebuilt and then re-adjusted, showing the payoff as he crushed baseballs around the backfields of Camelback Ranch during a January hitters' minicamp.
Then a 3-for-20 stretch hit Davidson at the start of Cactus League competition. The numbers were immaterial, as much as he was trying to do too much in a healthy return to action after breaking his foot during his White Sox debut and one game played in 2016, missing nine months of game situations.
Simply put, Tuesday's White Sox off-day came at a great moment for Davidson to regroup.
"Just kind of relax," Davidson said. "That's a big thing for me. Sometimes I can get in my head a little bit and try too hard because of the situation presented.
"Let it happen. That's what I did last year. Didn't think too much and just trusted it. It's pretty normal to come back from the injury and not trust it right away in the game, which is what I've been doing, rather than trusting the work I've put in for all offseason. I'm going to go out these next 15 or 20 at-bats and trust what I've done and see what happens."
Those early returns from Davidson's plan turned immediately positive. In his first three at-bats Thursday against the D-backs, Davidson singled home a run twice and homered. There's a little extra pressure placed upon the 25-year-old, with a potential starting designated hitter's job in the offing as the rebuilding White Sox enter '17.
If it's not a starting job, then Davidson certainly figures to see plenty of at-bats between DH, third base and first base. That pressure can become a negative, but in this current 20-at-bat increment, Davidson is trying to have a little fun and form a greater connection with the opposing pitcher.
"Sometimes a pitcher seems really far away. That's how he has been," Davidson said. "Kind of like when he starts feeling a little bit closer, not too close, but you feel in really good rhythm with him. You start laying off the offspeed and you get on that heater a little better."
White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson realizes once a player starts pressing a little bit, it even carries over to their work in the cage. It's time at that point to back off, push aside the frustration and figure out, "What am I doing here?" per Steverson.
"You can see steam kind of coming out of their ears," Steverson said. "There's a checklist that we have, and [Davidson] had some empty boxes on the check list. You want to play this game up to the standards you think you can play it at.
"He didn't think he was playing to the standards he thought he was capable of, so that got a little mental with him. Hopefully he's able to release those little by little."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.