Athletics

Mark Canha could see second child born during MLB's coronavirus hiatus

Mark Canha could see second child born during MLB's coronavirus hiatus

Bay Area native Mark Canha currently makes his home in Arizona. His soon-to-be family of four have been self-quarantining for four days already due to the global coronavirus pandemic, even though it’s not yet a local mandate.

“It’s kind of weird here,” Canha said Wednesday night. “A lot of people seem to be going about life as if everything is normal. They’re out in public a little too much. It’s a little worrisome for the current state of the country.”

Canha and family members only leave the house for essentials, or a quick drive around the neighborhood to help his daughter fall asleep.  

All of this is such a drastic departure from what he normally would be doing right now.

“It happened so quickly,” Canha said about developments surrounding COVID-19. “It was like 48 hours, and then see you later. It was so quick how it happened. We had played a game the day before the NBA suspended, once that happened it was kind of like ‘Uh oh, this is going bad.' ”

In a cloudy time of life, priorities are relatively clear for the A’s slugger.

“It feels like a time to be meant for keeping ourselves healthy,” Canha said. “The quarantine thing, rather than getting ready for baseball.”

Canha says the shock factor and lack of information are what strikes him most right now. He plans to keep workouts to the bare minimum for the time being, or until there’s a “light at the end of the tunnel.” 

“I’m really missing hitting,” Canha admitted. “It’s such a passion for me, I enjoy the process so much of getting ready during spring training and hitting in the cage everyday. It’s like a fun little puzzle that I have to try and figure out each year. And it’s just such a passion that I dive so deep into.

[RELATED: Canha ready to shed 'underrated' label]

For all the negatives involved with the world’s current health pandemic, it offers Canha the opportunity that he otherwise would not have been able to experience in the next six weeks.

“I’m going to in all likelihood, be there one hundred percent be there for the birth of my next child,” Canha said. “And also get to hang out with her for the first month two of her life. Which I wouldn’t have, if I was playing baseball.”

“There is reason for optimism on my end, but I know a lot of people are hurting.”

A's A.J. Puk shares positive health update after shoulder setback

A's A.J. Puk shares positive health update after shoulder setback

Baseball players -- they’re just like us. Well, at least right now, while the sports world is on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A’s young lefty pitchers A.J. Puk and Jesús Luzardo are both doing the same thing most of us are while participating in social distancing. Luzardo is streaming a ton of shows on Netflix (yep -- even “Tiger King”), while Puk is catching up on some sleep.

The two are also staying in shape as best they can, as they told The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser recently on the A’s Plus podcast

Puk is able to throw off the mound at his facility in Iowa and is able to use the bullpens at the local colleges if need be. That also means he’s making progress coming off of a minor setback to a shoulder strain prior to the spring training cancelations.

“Everything’s feeling fine,” Puk told Slusser. “Probably the best my shoulder’s felt in a while, actually you know, since coming back from Tommy John.”

Puk said he heard that there could be a portion following the surgery where the shoulder could flare-up.

“You just kind of have to work through it, I think maybe I was just at that stage of it,” Puk said. “I’m feeling great right now -- just real happy where I’m at right now.”

Puk underwent Tommy John surgery in April of 2018, and said there could be a silver lining with the regular-season delay.

“Maybe some extra time to get my stuff feeling good,” Puk said.

He’s getting sick of the “little injuries,” and wants to make sure he’s fully ready to go when, and if, the season begins this year.

Puk only was able to throw three Cactus League innings, but struck out two in the process.

Luzardo, meanwhile, is lucky in that he has teammate and fellow starting pitcher Mike Fiers just minutes up the road from him. The two have been working out, while maintaining social distancing, of course. 

Luzardo and Fiers are using free weights in the middle of an open field down in Florida and training with a mutual friend.

Luzardo knows he and Puk have a huge spotlight on them, with so much potential heading into their rookie seasons. But Luzardo is aware this hiatus is more than just a pushback to his first full year as a big leaguer. 

“In my shoes, my position is kind of irrelevant to the bigger picture. I’m not too caught up in how I’m affected by it rather than how other people are being affected by it.”

There’s a bigger picture there.

Luzardo came out of the bullpen last season and was sensational, boasting a 1.50 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 12 innings. 

[RELATED: Buddy Reed hopes to reunite to Puk in majors]

MLB reportedly recently discussed a plan that could move the sport to the Phoenix, Ariz. area as soon as May. All 30 teams would be playing in the area, and would have to be quarantined to their hotels.

They both had different thoughts on that.

And another silver lining? Luzardo believes the absence of the sport of baseball now could make the heart grow fonder.

Mike Fiers, Jesús Luzardo build close bond while social distancing in pandemic

Mike Fiers, Jesús Luzardo build close bond while social distancing in pandemic

Baseball can occasionally manifest some pretty fascinating personal connections.

Like how Mike Fiers, the eldest starter in the A's rotation, currently is forging an even tighter bond with Jesús Luzardo, one of his youngest counterparts.

“He only lives like 10 minutes from me,” Fiers told NBC Sports California on Tuesday from Florida. “So it’s not even like the home state, it’s like the home city.”

But their acquaintance didn’t start in Oakland. It actually began in the late 2000s.

“I remember him as a 10-, 11-year-old kid,” Fiers said. “Throwing bullpen [sessions] over by my high school, and helping out over there.”

Fiers has been following the lefty’s journey ever since. What a coincidence they’d end up on the same big league team.

“Obviously he became a big name coming through high school," Fiers said, "and his velocity getting up there, and then being a high draft pick.”

Now the two are workout partners in the strangest of times, with MLB, sports and much of life on complete pause.

Fiers and Luzardo get together every couple of days and complete socially-distanced pitching workouts, where they are able to push and provide each other inspiration.

“We cut it down to only a couple of guys,” Fiers said of the workouts. “We know how serious this thing is, and nobody wants to jeopardize their families and their livelihood.”

[RELATED: Fiers gifted Profar, Laureano for catches to save no-hitter]

The pair are taking thorough precautions in the no-contact sessions, which also feature strategically placed bottles of Purell hand sanitizer. There’s also a portable pitching mound, supplied by Fiers.

“We actually took that out to a church,” Fiers said. “It’s the only place we have left, a church parking lot. There’s a field next to it. So we just keep that pitching mound under a tree.”

It’s hardly the Coliseum, but it will have to do for now.