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Matt Davidson, Tyler Saladino starting over at White Sox mini-camp

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Overlooked for different reasons, minor-league infielders could have say in major-league plans

Tyler Saladino
Tyler Saladino
Video courtesy of the Chicago White Sox

While Steve talked about Erik Johnson last weekend, Matt Davidson finds himself in the same boat as a former top-100 prospect who had a starting role waiting for him in Chicago, only to drop the ball again and again for an entire season.

Davidson hit .199/.283/.362 down in Charlotte. He dug a hole early with a sluggish April, and he every time he looked like he might finally break out of the slump for good, the tractor beam dragged him back to below the Mendoza Line.

He's at Todd Steverson's mini-camp at Camelback Ranch for the second straight season, and as you might expect, he's trying to pretend like the first one never happened.

In an interview provided by the White Sox, he said he didn't have any physical issues. He just faced a lot of changes in his professional and personal life -- a new organization, unprecedented struggles, a kid on the way  -- and a bad start snowballed on him and dragged down his confidence level.

The good news? He and his wife welcomed their daughter into the world this offseason, so maybe a rebirth is next in line.

Star-divide

If Davidson needs a lesson in resiliency, he can look to Tyler Saladino, who is also participating at Todd's Holiday Camp.

Two consecutive down years diminished Saladino's prospect status and made him the forgotten infielder at Charlotte, but he had the opposite of Davidson's luck in 2014. When Marcus Semien spent the first two months on the 25-man roster, Saladino seized the opportunity and hit as an everyday shortstop (.310/.365/.498). When Semien returned and Saladino had to pick up playing time at third, left, first base and DH, that didn't throw him off, either (.308/.373/.451).

"I was just doing what I could to stay in the lineup, making each at-bat count and trying to make the most of it," Saladino said in an interview provided by the White Sox.

The only thing that could stop him was Tommy John surgery in late July, and so he's at Steverson's mini-camp trying to dust himself off for a second time.

"We've been hitting and throwing out here -- mostly throwing now, because the hitting's fine," Saladino said. "Getting into a program of throwing, increasing every day, trying to get the arm back into shape."

Saladino isn't certain he'll be ready for Opening Day, but everything's on schedule so far. If he's healthy, he then becomes one of the most interesting undercard stories of spring training, as it sounded like Rick Hahn had plans for him at the time of his surgery:

"Absolutely. He's an interesting offensive player," said Hahn of the right-handed-hitting infielder. "He's got a little bit of pop, little bit of speed and he gets on base. But he's shown this year at Charlotte some pretty good defensive versatility, too, playing all throughout the infield and evening taking reps in the corner outfield.

"He's a valuable guy, and it's unfortunate that he had that injury. He was certainly working himself into that mix to get up here to Chicago at some point. He'll get the repair done and be back at it next year."

Outfield play may not be recommended initially considering Saladino injured his arm making a throw home from left field, but the Sox may need a right-handed bat around the infield at some point, even after the acquisition of Emilio Bonifacio. Saladino pounded left-handed pitching to the tune of a .330/.396/.543 line last year, so if he can pick up where he left off, Semien's absence may pass largely unnoticed.