OAKLAND – It’s been a long spring for Mark Canha, and it comes in the wake of missing more than 80 percent of the 2016 season.
The infielder/outfielder had hoped to reestablish his middle-of-the-lineup credentials during the A’s longish spring, but an 0-for-2 day Saturday against the Giants left him with a .186 batting average for the spring. That leaves him with just one option.
Forget about it.
“I’ll take a new mindset and a clean slate into Monday,” Canha said after Saturday’s game.
How does that happen? How can he purge the last seven weeks of mostly frustrating at-bats?
“You have to put in the work and believe in it and have confidence in it,” Canha said. “I’ve been doing that the last few days. I’ve been thinking of things I need to do, and I’m confident I have the right ideas in my head right now.
“I felt I head really good rhythm at the beginning of camp, and now I’m scuffling. But it’s nothing, because I know what I have to do and the adjustments I need to make.”
Canha had a 16-homer rookie season, but missed the final five months last year thanks to the need for hip surgery. He’s healthy now, but his body is getting a new test – playing center field as the backup to Rajai Davis. Canha has played there in the spring, but he owns exactly zero big league games in center.
“I am confident of my ability out there,” he said. “It was good to get the reps in spring, to be sure. Now I’ve got some game reps under my belt and I’m confident in my ability out there.”
There had been some thought that Jaff Decker, a natural outfielder, would be the backup to Davis in center, but the club felt the last opening on the 25-man roster spot was needed by the bullpen, which will be manned by eight men instead of the usual seven to start the season.
Canha’s a natural athlete who’s spent time in left and right in addition to first base and third base, and manager Bob Melvin said that while Davis will get most of the playing time in center, the club can make do with Canha manning the position as needed.