Athletics

A's spring training Day 35: Canha hoping to get tested in center field

A's spring training Day 35: Canha hoping to get tested in center field

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.

 

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's can't find answers vs Keuchel

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Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's can't find answers vs Keuchel

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON — Sean Manaea was much improved Friday night over his previous three starts for the A’s.

Unfortunately for the left-hander, he had no control over the work of his counterpart on the mound.

Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel was at his ground ball-inducing best, frustrating the A’s over seven scoreless innings as Houston continued its recent dominance over Oakland with a 3-1 victory in the opener of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.

Keuchel recorded 17 of his 21 outs via ground ball, an astonishing rate but typical of the way the 2015 AL Cy Young winner likes to do business. He entered the night leading the major leagues in groundball percentage (64.7) among those with at least 90 innings pitched. Keuchel (11-2) got a big assist from his infield defense, particularly third baseman Alex Bregman and shortstop Marwin Gonzalez.

Manaea went six innings and gave up three runs, including back-to-back solo homers from Bregman and Jose Altuve in the third. But it was a definite step forward after his previous three outings, in which he surrendered 13 earned runs and 21 hits over just 6 2/3 innings.

The A’s mustered just five hits. Aside from Matt Joyce’s homer in the eighth, they didn’t advance a single runner past second base.

Oakland has dropped 11 of 13 games to Houston so far this season.

IMPROVED SHOWING: After showing signs of fatigue in his recent starts, Manaea showed improved form simply based on the batters he retired. His fastball generally sat between 89-91, still a bit below normal, but he overall pitched more effectively and turned in his longest outing since going seven innings July 27. He gave up six hits over his six innings, struck out two and walked one. A wild pitch in the sixth hurt, as it set up Josh Reddick’s RBI single.

HEY, IT’S PROGRESS: Seeing Manaea get through a scoreless first inning was noteworthy, as the A’s had gone five consecutive games with allowing at least one run in the first.

PINDER DEBUTS IN CENTER: Matt Olson entered the game as a pinch hitter in the top of the eighth, then went to right field in the bottom half. That pushed Chad Pinder over to center field, his first time playing the position in the major leagues. Manager Bob Melvin has mentioned Pinder is likely to draw some starts in center before the end of the season.

STRIKEOUTS MOUNTING FOR KD: After striking out four times Wednesday, the A’s cleanup man struck out three more times Friday. His 158 strikeouts entering the night were tied for eighth most in franchise history.

CATCHING UPDATE: Josh Phegley, coming back from a strained oblique, has played two games for Triple-A Nashville on a rehab assignment. Melvin said the A’s are not going to rush Phegley. Part of that is they think highly of the work Dustin Garneau has done in his place as the right-handed portion of the catching platoon with Bruce Maxwell.

After country music detour, Giles instrumental in A's ballpark quest

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After country music detour, Giles instrumental in A's ballpark quest

As the A’s Chief Operating Officer, Chris Giles’ thoughts and energies are wired into the business world, helping the team plan for a new ballpark and brainstorming all ways possible to bring in more revenue.

From talking to him, you wouldn’t guess that Giles once walked away from the white-collar sports management world to pursue a country music career.

Giles left a vice president position with the 49ers in November 2015, picking up an acoustic guitar, writing and recording a three-song EP, “Party Me”, that he performed at club shows all around Northern California.

He still performs once or twice a month on the weekend. It’s quite a contrast from his Monday-thru-Friday gig, but that’s exactly the point. In the lyrics to the song “Party Me”, Giles addresses the ambition and drive required in the 9-to-5 world and the reward of blowing off steam with buddies afterward.

“It’s a hobby, I’ll always do it,” Giles shares in the latest edition of The A’s Insider Podcast. “I still play once or twice a month locally, small acoustic stuff.”

Giles grew up in Clovis and sang in talent shows as a kid before becoming a high school wrestler.

“Randy Travis was my favorite as a kid,” he said. “I can remember writing his lyrics on construction paper and giving it to girls on the playground.”

Giles’ career in sales and marketing eventually led him to the 49ers, where he became VP of sales and strategy and played an instrumental role in the opening of Levi’s Stadium. He oversaw premium sales, seat license sales, concessions and retail among other responsibilities.

But he never lost his desire to pursue a music career.

“It was one of those things where I felt like if I didn’t give it a try, then I would always just regret it,” said Giles, who is married with three kids. “I enjoy writing songs, I love playing live. I was running around with a couple other artists, we were collaborating on a couple things. It just seemed like a logical point to give it a go.”

He eventually returned to the sports world with the NFL, running sales and marketing efforts for Super Bowl LI. But it’s his experience with the launch of Levi’s Stadium that appears to make him an especially good fit with the A’s, who plan to announce by the end of the calendar year a location in Oakland to build a new ballpark.

Opening a new stadium is one thing. Finding ways to maximize revenue from that venue is another, and that’s where Giles’ expertise factors in. He’s got an instrumental voice in how the ballpark will be designed and what features it will include.

He came aboard in an advisory role for A’s president Dave Kaval in March and was named the team’s COO in early July. Joining the franchise at this point, with so many ambitious plans for the future, is energizing to him.

“I think we’re approaching a rocket ship that’s sitting on the ground,” Giles said. “We’re not quite sure which rocket boosters work, but we know we’ve got a rocket ship. Our job is to make sure we tune that thing up and get it ready to go.”