SoxFest comes to the Palmer House Hilton this weekend, and fans figures to flock to autograph booths and seminars featuring former favorites like Frank Thomas, Bo Jackson, Billy Pierce, Gary Peters, Ron Kittle and Bobby Jenks.
Nostalgia is always a big draw at the annual winter gathering, but White Sox fans fired up about the upcoming year would be wise to check out a pair new players that the White Sox are counting on to turn around a miserable 99-loss season.
Eaton joined the Sox in a three-way trade that sent left-handed pitcher Hector Santiago to the Los Angeles Angels on Dec. 10, and Davidson came over in a Dec. 16 deal from Arizona for closer Addison Reed.
"The sky's the limit for both of these players if they continue to work hard and learn the game of baseball, major-league baseball," said new White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson. "Two great additions."
Eaton and Davidson are viewed as big pieces of the Sox' future, but expect some growing pains this season.
The 25-year-old Eaton played in only 88 games with the Diamondbacks the last two years, putting up a .254/332/.373 hitting line with 7 stolen bases in 12 attempts.
Eaton was sidelined for the first half of 2013 with a sprained ligament in his left elbow, but the left-handed hitter is confident he can put up numbers similar to two years ago, when he batted a combined .375 with 47 doubles, 5 triples, 7 home runs, 48 RBI, 130 runs scored and 44 stolen bases in 130 games with Class AAA Reno and AA Mobile.
"If I can hang my hat on a .300 (batting average), score 100 runs with an on-base percentage around .400, I think I'd have a heck of a year," Eaton said. "I think it's definitely doable. That's what I'm shooting for this coming year."
Eaton was at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., last week for Steverson's minicamp.
"I saw him in 2011 when he was a minor-leaguer and I saw him in the Fall League that year, also," Steverson said of Eaton. "He's a scrappy player, he wants it and he understands his game. He knows he's got to get on base. He's got to do everything possible to barrel up a baseball and put it in play. He'll use his speed and he'll bunt.
"If you hang one in the wrong spot or put the ball in the wrong place he has the ability to juice you out of the yard for a home run. He's really got a nice little package that he comes with. I think he's a great piece to the puzzle as it relates for us to start understanding getting on base and creating runs for this team."
Davidson, 22, has a grand total of 31 games under his belt, all coming with Arizona last season. The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder batted .237 with 3 home runs and 12 RBI while striking out 24 times in 87 plate appearances.
While his goal is playing third base for the Sox in the March 31 season opener against the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field, Davidson might need a little more time in the minor leagues before getting on the field.
Once he does get settled in, Davidson figures to be a mainstay in the middle of the White Sox' lineup. The Diamondbacks' first-round pick in the 2009 draft (No. 35 overall), Davidson was also in Arizona last week.
"He's going to add some power," Steverson said. "Matty's got a ton of pop. He uses the whole field and throughout his workouts he showed the ability to drive the ball hard off and over the wall to the opposite field, which always is a plus. He stays over the ball; he's not just a pull-happy guy. I didn't get a chance to see a lot of his defense, but as a hitter I think he has a good clue of what he wants to do as a young player right now in this organization."
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