Davidson Aiming To Be Legitimate Bullpen Option

An infielder by trade, Matt Davidson wants to help keep the bullpen fresh.

Bruce Levine
October 19, 2018 - 11:27 am
White Sox infielder Matt Davidson pitches.

Patrick Gorski/USA Today Sports

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(670 The Score) He was one of just a few relief pitchers in baseball who finished this season without being scored upon. This offseason, his focus is on continuing to hone that craft.

The oddity here is he's a position player.

White Sox infielder/designated hitter Matt Davidson has added serious pitching work to his training this winter, with the goal of becoming the next two-way player in baseball. The White Sox have given Davidson the freedom to embark on this endeavor and plan to assess the situation throughout the offseason, as Davidson is headquartered near their complex in Arizona.

"This is something that will take a lot more work in for me," Davidson said in late September. "I think it is something that can be done. It is something I am passionate about, so I enjoy doing it. I told them this is something I wouldn't mind doing."

His quest may not be a sexy story like that of Angels star Shohei Ohtani, but the 27-year-old Davidson is zeroing in on another meaningful way of remaining a viable big league player. He pitched in three blowouts games for the White Sox in 2018. He logged three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out two. 

Davidson's success wasn't simply luck. He had a baseline skill set to work with. Davidson has a 92-mph fastball with what the coaching staff believes is decent movement. He was one of only three position players since the DH was instituted in 1973 to throw three scoreless innings to begin a pitching career, according to STATS LLC. The others were Doug Dascenzo of the Cubs (five shutout innings across 1990 and 1991), Jim Morrison of the Braves (3 2/3 shutout innings in 1988) and John Cangelosi (three shutout innings for three teams from 1987 to 1997).

Prior to 2018, Davidson last pitched back at Yucaipa (Calif.) High School.

"I grew up as a pitcher," Davidson said. "I didn't really play a position full time until my junior year. I was a pitcher/DH mostly before that."

A first-round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2009, Davidson's goal is to refine his pitching skills enough to the extent that he can help keep the bullpen fresh while doing a credible job as a hitter as well. He doesn't expect to be used in a high-leverage moment, but he wants to be a legitimate option on a regular basis.

Davidson hit .228 with 20 homers, 62 RBIs and a .738 OPS in 123 games in 2018.

"I know I can help the team in this area," Davidson said of pitching. "It's not an ego thing. I am a position player and hitter. If I can help the team pitching and be an asset for the organization, that would be great."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.​​​