MESA, Ariz. — The A’s are running Mark Canha out to center field in exhibitions, but they can’t control how busy that keeps him.
“The last two times I’ve started out there, I’ve gotten like two balls in two games,” Canha said.
Manager Bob Melvin hopes that changes Tuesday night, when he’ll pencil Canha in as his center fielder again versus the Seattle Mariners in Peoria. The A’s are trying to decipher whether Canha can be a capable backup center fielder, which would potentially allow them to go with four outfielders and an extra reliever when they begin the regular season.
“It seems like you won’t get something for a while, then you get (a game) where everything comes into play,” Melvin said. “We’re hoping one of those games happens for him pretty soon.”
Canha is game for chipping in wherever needed. He missed all but 16 games last season while recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. Healthy now, he is moving well and says he’s up for the challenge of manning center when starter Rajai Davis isn’t playing.
“I feel like I can contribute and be a producer on this team,” Canha said. “I’ve been waiting to say that for six months now. I’m ecstatic about where I’m at right now.”
As the roster projects, Canha would play right field against lefties in a platoon with Matt Joyce. He could also see time at designated hitter. But with exactly two weeks left before Opening Night, the A’s want to know how well Canha can hold down center. Because of the lack of action in games so far, Canha is taking extra fly balls in center during pregame workouts.
He and outfield coach Mike Aldrete also are working on his throws from center.
“I’ve said all along the biggest difference is throws, different angles and longer throws in general,” Canha said. “But I think the biggest thing for me is just remember, be an athlete out there, be aggressive. Trust yourself. That’s where you get in trouble in the outfield, when you get tentative.”
HEALTH UPDATES: Melvin said he might have more information Tuesday on Sonny Gray, who traveled to Chicago to visit a specialist concerning his strained lat muscle.
Outfielder Jaff Decker, bothered by a sore oblique, was examined by a doctor Monday and might start swinging the bat as early as Tuesday. His timetable for return still isn’t known.
NOTEWORTHY: The Diamondbacks scored five runs in the eighth to take control and won 10-6 on Monday in the A’s only night game at Hohokam Stadium this spring. All five runs were charged to left-hander Ross Detwiler, who’s trying to win a job with Oakland either in the rotation or bullpen. Detwiler hurt his cause with two walks and two wild pitches.
Arizona, which trailed 5-1 entering the seventh, began its comeback with Kevin Cron’s two-run homer off Sean Doolittle.
ICYMI: Outfielder Lazaro “Lazarito” Armenteros, a 17-year-old Cuban phenom who the A’s signed last summer for $3 million, gave his first interview of the spring to CSNCalifornia.com on Sunday. Read here about his adjustment to the United States and what the A’s have planned for him this season.
ODDS AND ENDS: Sean Manaea was sharp over five innings, allowing just three hits and one unearned run. He threw 76 pitches, then went down to the bullpen and tossed 10 more to get his pitch count up. The plan is to get the lefty up to around 100 in his next start. … Khris Davis had a two-run double to dead center in the first to give the A’s an early lead.