Matt Davidson proud of what he’s done, but ‘I’m capable of more’
There were seven games left on the 2017 schedule, but White Sox corner infielder/designated hitter Matt Davidson already was packing stuff in boxes at his locker Monday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
It was symbolic undertaking for Davidson, 26, who is having one of the best home-run seasons ever for a Sox rookie.
‘‘I’m excited to have a full offseason, four months to really train and get ready for this next year,’’ Davidson said.
A broken foot suffered after a well-earned call-up from Class AAA Charlotte last summer prevented Davidson from getting after it last winter until Christmastime. Even so, he has put himself on the Sox’ map by hitting 26 homers this season, the fourth-most for a Sox rookie behind Jose Abreu (36 in 2014), Ron Kittle (35 in 1983) and Zeke Bonura (27 in 1934).
‘‘I feel like I’m capable of more,’’ said Davidson, who carried a .223/.264/.463 hitting line into the Sox’ 4-2 victory against the Angels, their fourth triumph in their last five games. ‘‘I learned a lot about the league, how it pitches to you. It adjusts to you, and you have to adjust back. You learn a lot about that. It’s a good baseline to go off of.’’
Davidson, who played first base Monday with Abreu resting a bruised left shin, had walked 19 times entering the game. He walked 62 times at Charlotte in 2015 and 49 times in 2014, so there’s room for him to hike his on-base percentage.
‘‘He’s walked in the minor leagues,’’ hitting coach Todd Steverson said. ‘‘And he and I have talked about that time and again. He should be able to draw more walks based on the fact that he’s dangerous. It’s just a matter of not swinging at pitches [he shouldn’t] consistently. And allowing yourself to walk. And not putting yourself in holes you don’t need to be in.’’
There’s nothing lacking about Davidson’s homer and RBI production, though. An out call on Yolmer Sanchez at the plate on a grounder to third baseman Luis Valbuena in the first inning cost Davidson his 68th RBI, but he got it his next time up with a sacrifice fly to center.
Only Abreu with 100 and Avisail Garcia with 80 have more RBI on the Sox, and only six rookies in the majors have more RBI than Davidson, who ranks third in rookie homers behind the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger.
‘‘Overall, as far as statistics, I know I can do better,’’ Davidson said. ‘‘But I’m proud of how everything went. Average-wise, I can be a lot higher and draw more walks. The focus this offseason will be the approach and fine-tuning that because we know the swing works. It’s about the consistency.’’
Davidson also acclimated himself to DH duty (58 games). He said that DH-ing was ‘‘tough mentally’’ and that while he would have preferred playing in the field more often, he is ‘‘very grateful for the role I’ve had this year.’’
As for how Davidson fits into the Sox’ rebuild, it’s not clear-cut for someone used primarily as a DH. But there’s always something to be said for power.
‘‘I’m not the GM,’’ Steverson said. ‘‘But he’s here and is having a good year and has made a statement for himself. Let it play out.’’
The game played out well for the Sox. Left fielder Nicky Delmonico drove in two runs with a double in the first, and James Shields (5-7) allowed two runs in seven innings and matched a season high with eight strikeouts. Juan Minaya pitched the ninth for his seventh save in eight chances.
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