White Sox notes: Erik Johnson, Mat Latos, Matt Davidson, Tyler Saladino
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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Erik Johnson’s window to a spot in the starting rotation was closed – but not all the way – when veteran Mat Latos was signed to a one-year contract on Feb. 9. Johnson was AAA International League Pitcher of the Year in 2015, then made a solid showing in September in his second stint in the majors.
“You can never have too much pitching depth,’’ GM Rick Hahn said. “In Mat you bring in a proven veteran guy who when healthy – and the injuries seem to be behind him knock on wood – you bring a proven veteran guy who competes and give you 180-200 quality innings.’’
Latos, 28, finished eighth in National League Cy Young voting his first full season with the San Diego Padres, then pitched to ERAs of 3.47, 3.48 and 3.16 with 30 or more starts in each of the next three seasons. But he is coming off knee and elbow problems in 2014 and 2015 and is no sure thing.
“As for Johnson or [Jacob] Turner or any members of our rotation in Chicago or potentially Charlotte, we’re not naïve enough to think we’ll have five guys make 32 starts,’’ Hahn said. “We fully expect Erik and possibly Jacob and others in this camp to contribute in a meaningful way.’’
That was then, this is now
Two camps ago third base prospect Matt Davidson was believed to be close to wearing a major league uniform, having been acquired in an offseason trade that cost the Sox closer Addison Reed. But two seasons of struggle later, and with All-Star Todd Frazier acquired in a trade for prospects Trayce Thompson, Frankie Montas and Micah Johnson, Davidson seems farther away than ever.
“I mean, I kind of expected it,’’ Davidson said of the trade. “I would think as the White Sox, you would want to produce at third base and obviously I haven’t been doing that. No hurt feelings or nothing like that. I would have done the same thing if I was in their position.’’
Davidson, who will be 25 in March, hit 20 and 23 homers but batted .199 and .203 in with high strikeout rates his two seasons at AAA Charlotte.
With Frazier entrenched for at least two seasons, and Brett Lawrie also on the roster, Davidson – once a top 100 prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks system, has a tough road to hoe with the Sox.
“You know there are other teams and I think that’s really what guys end up having to hold dear,’’ Manager Robin Ventura said. “Somebody’s going to give you a shot. I think whether it’s us or whether it’s somebody else, there’s other places out there for guys to make themselves a career. So you have to have the dedication, the discipline to carry yourself in a professional way and I think other people see that.’’
Saladino’s not worried
Shortstop Tyler Saladino on getting accustomed to working with second baseman Brett Lawrie:
“It’s pretty much like that every year, even in the minor leagues where it’s usually a different team every year. It’s nothing I haven’t gone through before. With a new guy, just figure out his tendencies and what fits with him and go off of that.”
Filling up fast
The first full squad workout is Tuesday, but most players are already in camp. Adam LaRoche’s arrival left Avisail Garcia, Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera on the “incoming” list.that.’’