White Sox manager Robin Ventura probably watches third basemen though a different lens than other players because Ventura played the position himself. With his first look at Matt Davidson, the Sox’ designated third baseman of the future if not their Opening Day third sacker, Ventura came away with a pretty good feeling.
Davidson looked the part, as you might expect of a former first-round choice, and appears well equipped to potentially take on Conor Gillaspie and Jeff Keppinger during spring training.
Is it his job to lose?
“I don’t know if it’s that,” Ventura said Wednesday. “We still have guys who can play there, but it’s a competition, definitely. For him, he has every reason to go in there and try to win the job. That’s for a lot of spots. Guys are going to come in and you have a chance to win that job, but you do have other guys who can play there. Depending on how it goes in spring training you make adjustments after that. But I venture to say for him he’s going in there trying to win the job.”
‘‘Definitely, the goal is starting at third on Opening Day,’’ Davidson said after the Sox traded closer Addison Reed for him in December. ‘‘But if it takes until May or June or later, if it’s starting in Class AAA, I trust whatever decision they make. I just know when I get there, I want to stick and not be up and down [in the minors].’’
Ventura agreed it wouldn’t make sense to have Davidson around unless he plays.
“I would say it’s probably like that — you want him to play,” said Ventura, who saw Davidson in action at the team’s recent mini hitting camp in Glendale, Ariz. “But you start watching him, moving around, how he goes about his business, he fits the part. He looks like a big-leaguer. he’s bigger than I thought, from what the reports were, and he moves around better than what the reports were. He can hit and has the power and everything else.”
Davidson, who turns 23 in March, is probably rated as an average defender at best, but Ventura, a five-time Gold Glove winner with the Sox, says cut him some slack. There is time to improve.
“Defensively, I got that rap too for a while so I’m not worried about that.”
In giving up Reed, Davidson came at a price. Young, proven closers don’t grow on trees.
“Yeah, we did,” Ventura said. ”
“You have to give up something to get something.”
Davidson had 76 at-bats with the Diamondbacks in his first major-league experience, hitting .237. He hit three homers over an eight-day period. He also struck out 24 times over the 76 ABs.