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All springs lead to Charlotte for Matt Davidson, Tyler Saladino

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Triple-A team could retain starting infield from last season

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Last spring, Matt Davidson hung around until the penultimate round of cuts, doing so well that Rick Hahn was asked to provide a justification for the move.

This time around, Davidson didn't survive the first round, and nobody needed an explanation.

Davidson's comeback story needs a comeback story. He went just 2-for-14 (one double) with one walk and four strikeouts, and his playing time was limited by a stress reaction in his left scapula that caused problems with the rest of that shoulder.

Rick Hahn hasn't deviated from the message on Davidson:

And although Davidson, who batted .143 this spring, hasn't met expectations yet, Hahn maintained that it's far too early to judge the fruits of that deal.

"That wouldn't be a very good trade," Hahn said. "At age 23, 24, it's far too early to give up on somebody with that type of talent. A lot of external pressure he put on himself last year [is] now removed or resolved. He's poised to have a good year at Triple-A."

The one thing going for Davidson: A great spring wouldn't have meant much, at least barring injury, as he would still have to prove that he's not the .199 hitter that couldn't tread water in Charlotte last season. When Opening Day rolls around for the Knights, he'll be in the same position as Tyler Saladino and Trayce Thompson, both of whom had successful stints in major league camp.

This time around, it was Saladino to fall victim to the numbers game. He did well enough this spring to warrant a longer look (.280/.308/.400, one walk, five strikeouts over 26 plate appearances), but the White Sox infield is stacked with younger prospects (Micah Johnson, Carlos Sanchez) and guaranteed contracts (Emilio Bonifacio, Gordon Beckham).

It's unfortunate, because he was probably Charlotte's best player before Tommy John surgery spoiled a September promotion. Now it's the signing of Beckham that keeps him at arm's length from the majors. The depth is a plus in a vacuum, but it's possible it could become a point of contention during the first half if Beckham picks up where he left off in Chicago while Saladino resumes his hot hitting in Charlotte. In fact, the Knights could return an entire infield of incumbents if Carlos Sanchez loses out on the second-base battle, and it's usually not the Sox's style to hold them there forever.

At least Beckham had a spring training game worth bragging about. He hit a homer and two doubles against Cincinnati on Wednesday, which boosted his Cactis League line to a less egregious .154/.267/.346.