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Camp gets Sox players in swing of things

CHICAGO -- While much of the country is in a deep freeze this week, a group of 13 Chicago White Sox hitters, both major and minor leaguers, just put themselves through a rapid thaw.

For the second consecutive January, hitting coach Todd Steverson conducted a mini-camp for hitters at the club's spring-training complex in Glendale, Arizona, with the goal of building a hitting base for the 2015 season.

"We were able to get in the cage and get some things done with thought processes going forward in their mental capacities and their physical capacities," Steverson said. "Really, for these guys going into a long season, they really need to get to learn themselves and that's what really the process of this is all about. It's not really about tinkering, it's about getting a routine down and understanding what you want to do moving forward."

Among those participating in the camp were Adam Eaton, Matt Davidson, Micah Johnson, Courtney Hawkins, Keon Barnum, Tim Anderson, Trayce Thompson and Tyler Saladino.

At 26, Eaton is still young, but he had the most big-league experience of anybody in the group. And despite a productive first year on the South Side, with a .300 batting average and a .362 on-base percentage, he still saw the benefit of getting an early start to the season.

"It's a buzzkill because you get into the mode of spring training and it's exciting to get out here, but it's only three days," Eaton said. "But it is good to see some familiar faces, see some guys, see some batting practice and see where it goes. It's nice to get some fresh air and get out to the facility."

One player with plenty to prove in the upcoming season is minor-league third baseman Matt Davidson, who struggled at Triple-A Charlotte last year, his first in the organization after arriving in a trade last winter with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Davidson batted only .199 with a .362 slugging percentage at Triple-A this past summer, hitting 20 home runs with 55 RBIs. He had 95 hits compared to a career-high 164 strikeouts and admitted that part of his problem was trying to do too much to prove himself in a new organization.

"I think anybody would do that," Davidson said. "I was obviously guilty of that and had a tough year, but I'll put that behind me, and the White Sox will as well, and we're working to put a good 2015 together. Just start from scratch and go out and have a good year."

Under Steverson last season, the White Sox improved by leaps and bounds on offense, and more improvement is expected with the additions of veterans Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche, not to mention Avisail Garcia's presence for the entire year.

But this camp was all about giving the young players a chance at merging seamlessly one day with the club's proven talent.

"The organization picks you to come out here and gives you a chance to hang out with all the big-league coaches and the instructors, you really should be privileged on that level to do that," Steverson said. "We had 13 guys out here this week, but everybody in the organization means something. Going forward, we want everybody to have this opportunity at some point."