Matt Davidson believes he hit his first home run at the age of 12 – but there’s been so many since then, he’s not really sure.
“Probably in Little League I started getting some power and stuff but not really too much,” Davidson, 24, said following the Charlotte Knights’ batting practice on Thursday at BB&T BallPark.
“I think more like eighth grade or ninth grade I really remember hitting some homers where my power really started and I started becoming a power hitter.”
Davidson says his identity as a baseball player mostly centers on the long ball, and on Monday night at Werner Park in Omaha, Neb., the 6-foot-3, 230-pound third baseman looks to put his power on display.
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As one of eight participants in the Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby, Davidson can become the second player to win the event twice. His first title came in 2013 as a member of the Reno Aces.
Davidson’s 2013 championship came one day after being named the MVP of the Futures Game at Citi Field in New York. He traveled cross-country from Tacoma, Wash., to New York for the game and departed early the next morning for the derby at his home park in Reno, Nev.
“It was the most insane All-Star break I’ve ever had,” he said.
The 2013 derby marked Davidson’s first win since the Arizona Diamondbacks drafted him in the first round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
As a high school senior, Davidson won the 2008 All-American Game Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium before coming up short in the 2010 Midwest League Home Run Derby and the 2012 Southern League Home Run Derby. But his power was still there.
Davidson has hit 114 home runs over parts of seven minor league seasons. When the Diamondbacks called him up in 2013, he hit three home runs in 31 games.
Since the Chicago White Sox acquired him from Arizona in December 2013, Davidson has hit .212 with 285 strikeouts in Charlotte. But he’s hit 34 home runs with the Knights and is tied for third in the International League with 14 home runs this season.
“Even this year I’m not where I particularly want to be, but the power numbers are still there,” he said. “I think it’s definitely evident in my game. I think that when I pull it all together – really get that average up, get a consistent at-bat all of the time – I think my power numbers will even go up.”
Davidson says Monday will still be a challenge. Along with handling the crowd and his adrenaline, he knows it’s imperative to manage his energy.
But even then, it all comes down to approaching each swing as he has since his first home run, whenever it might have been.
“These are little things you did when you played whiffleball with your friends,” he said. “You’d sit there and you’d try to hit the ball as hard as you could. That’s kind of what you do out there.”