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.

 

Kyler Murray recreates iconic Bo Jackson photo, and A's properly react

kylerimprint.jpg
Kyler Murray / Twitter

Kyler Murray recreates iconic Bo Jackson photo, and A's properly react

Imagine being compared to Bo Jackson.

Yes -- the Bo Jackson.

The legend who dominated in both Major League Baseball and the National Football League. He was selected by the Royals in the 1986 MLB Draft and in the same year was the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. No big deal.

Bo played for the Royals, White Sox and Angels across eight seasons, earning All-Star honors in 1989, and he even was in MVP talks. In the NFL, he spent four seasons on the Raiders and even led the league three different times in longest rushing attempts.

How can you mimic that? Well, you can't, but you can pose like Bo. Just ask Kyler Murray.

He was the ninth overall pick by the A’s in this year’s MLB Draft and now is the starting quarterback at Oklahoma after backing up Baker Mayfield last year. So, the correlation is rather similar, but check out the young dual athlete pose like the legendary Jackson to mirror an iconic photo:

It's like looking at a reflection, right?

The A's had some fun with it, too, bringing recently crowned AL Manager of the Year Bob Melvin into the conversation about their young prospect.

Because, after all, BoMel knows ...

Did Nathan Eovaldi's playoff heroics put him out of A's price range?

Did Nathan Eovaldi's playoff heroics put him out of A's price range?

No free agent made himself more money this postseason than right-hander Nathan Eovaldi.

The 28-year-old had a respectable regular season, going 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP between the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox. His career numbers also are just decent: 44-53, 4.16 ERA, 1.35 WHIP.

But in 22 1/3 innings this postseason, Eovaldi allowed just four earned runs for an ERA of 1.61, helping the Red Sox win a World Series title.

Eovaldi's playoff heroics turned him into one of the hottest commodities of the offseason. He earned just $2 million in each of the last two seasons, but he's now projected to land a multiyear contract at around $15 million per season.

The A's obviously need starting pitching help -- executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane already has said as much. But spending big bucks on a sexy free agent target isn't exactly their MO.

Eovaldi would have been a shrewd signing for around $8 million per year, but $15 million is a pretty steep price to pay off one great month. Before this season, Eovaldi hadn't recorded an ERA under 4 since 2013. His high WHIP and low swing-and-miss rate also are concerns.

For the type of money Eovaldi is expected to get, the A's would be better off pursuing top-end starters such as Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel, both of whom are expected to earn around $20 million per year. And really, what's an extra $5 million at that point?

Otherwise, Oakland probably should use that $15 million to sign multiple pitchers, including their own free agents.

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Thursday is dedicated to free agent pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.

Will Phillies be in the mix for Nate Eovaldi?
How Eovaldi set himself up for big payday
How does Eovaldi fit the White Sox?
Will Giants take risk with Eovaldi?