Healthy once again, Matt Davidson happy with season debut after disappointing end to 2016

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Matt Davidson's 2017 White Sox season debut went a lot smoother than his last one.

On Thursday, the 26-year-old designated hitter went 2-for-3 with a three-run homer and a triple in the White Sox 11-2 win over the Detroit Tigers. He also drew a walk and scored three runs.

More importantly, he stayed healthy.

"I can completely understand and do appreciate the situation he's in," manager Rick Renteria said. "He's been battling. Obviously last year was kind of a fluke situation when he came up with the injury. He's been working really, really hard.

"He looked really good in the mini hitting camp, he looked well in the spring. Just for him to have the start that he did today, hopefully it validates the work he's been putting in and that he has a chance to belong here and contribute."

The White Sox previously recalled Davidson from Triple-A Charlotte on June 30, 2016. The promotion was well deserved after Davidson spent a trying 2 1/2 seasons in the minors. But by the time the day was over, his season was too with a broken foot, an injury he suffered while running the bases.

Healthy once again, Davidson immediately tested his foot Thursday. He tripled in his first at-bat in the second inning off Tigers starter Matthew Boyd and scored on Jacob May's safety squeeze. Davidson walked in the third inning ahead of Geovany Soto's three-run homer. And he homered off Anibal Sanchez in the fourth inning, a three-run shot that traveled 428 feet. It was Davidson's first homer since Sept. 22, 2013 at Colorado when he played for Arizona.

Afterward, Davidson said he had flashback to last season's debut.

"It always helps me. I just try not to dwell on it," Davidson said. "I didn't even realize it until probably, maybe my third at-bat. After I got done I came back when I started down the tunnel I thought: 'Man, I remember I broke my foot when I was running down this tunnel.' I was making sure it was good to go. I didn't put a lot of thought into it."

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Since last year's disappointment, Davidson has tried to stay task-oriented. He credits Renteria's leadership for his newfound focus.

"Like last year, you get to a good spot where I thought I was, then you break your foot," Davidson said. "You take it day by day. That's something Ricky preaches every day, taking the process, taking your work, every single day, every at-bat."

After being traded to the White Sox from the Arizona Diamondbacks in December 2013, Davidson struggled to reach the major league level. He was believed to have the inside track on the starting job in 2014 only to be sent to the minors late that spring. He played in 346 games in Triple-A Charlotte, hitting .199 and .203 in 2014 and 2015. Davidson rebounded last season and earned his promotion.

Though he struggled in his first two seasons with the Knights, home runs were never an issue, with his 53 ranking fourth in franchise history.

Back at the major league level, Davidson is just focusing on the positives at this point of his progression. He's happy with his results after a disappointing end to last season and looks forward to what's ahead.

"There will be a lot of firsts this year, traveling, getting a full season and not a call-up," he said, "so I'm just excited and ready to enjoy the ride."

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