Return to Dodger Stadium means something to Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Matt Davidson.

Matt Davidson

Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Matt Davidson is batting sixth against the Dodgers tonight. (Getty Images)

Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Matt Davidson grew up in Yucaipa, about 70 miles east of Dodger Stadium. His first appearance in a major-league lineup here is tonight, and it’s a quieter occasion than one might expect. He expects about 20 friends and family to attend.

Unlike a lot of Southern California kids, Davidson wasn’t a Dodger or Angel fan growing up, though he did attend a handful of games at each park.

“I was just a big Randy Johnson fan,” he said. “I went to the (Diamondbacks) and followed them because of him.”

Davidson’s dream came true on August 11 when he made his major-league debut in Phoenix. The 35th overall pick in the 2009 draft came into Tuesday’s game hitting .184 (7 for 38) in 17 games. Primarily a pitcher in high school, Davidson is seen as the Diamondbacks’ third baseman of the future.

“Defense has been my weak point. I’ve been working on it a lot,” he said. “It’s been getting easier, I guess more fun to play as I’ve been getting better. That’s the part I lacked.”

Yucaipa has been a focal point lately because of Davidson and Seattle Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker, high school teammates who quickly ascended the minor-league ladder to debut 19 days apart. Cleveland Indians outfielder Matt Carson and veteran Cincinnati Reds catcher Corky Miller give Yucaipa four current major-league players. Former Arizona third baseman Mark Teahen, currently out of organized baseball, is perhaps the city’s most famous baseball player.

Not bad for a town of 51,000.

“A lot of people don’t even know how to pronounce it when they see it,” Davidson said. “It’s a small town. That area, everyone knows about it but people who don’t live in Southern California — even more Inland Empire area — they don’t even know. People have no clue where you’re from. It’s kind of cool.”

Davidson said the calm and relaxed vibe in town suits his personality. He recently became engaged to a Yucaipa native, and plans to spend his first off-season as a Major League Baseball player in his home town.

Since Yucaipa is a small town, it’s not like half the stadium will be cheering Davidson’s name tonight. That doesn’t make the occasion any less special for the 22-year-old.

“Honestly it makes it a little more fun knowing you can play in front of your family and friends,” he said.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.