MESA, Ariz. – Catcher Josh Phegley and first baseman Mark Canha are both nursing minor injuries that figure to keep them out of the A’s Cactus League opener Thursday.
Manager Bob Melvin is hopeful they may be able to return in time for Friday’s split-squad exhibitions.
Phegley is dealing with shoulder soreness that began after some recent throwing drills, while Canha has a stiff back.
Regarding Phegley, Melvin said: “It really came up the first day throwing to bases. The catchers do a lot of throwing. This happens from time to time. Once it got a little bit sore we weren’t gonna push it.”
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Canha was originally going to play in Tuesday’s intrasquad game but was scratched as a precaution.
With Stephen Vogt scheduled to miss the first week of exhibitions due to elbow surgery, Oakland is without each of its top two catchers for the time being. That means increased time behind the plate for Carson Blair and Bruce Maxwell.
“Maxwell and Blair will be the guys, with Vogt and Phegley down for a bit,” Melvin said. “Those are the two guys that would start for the split-squad. And this is a big opportunity for them, especially Maxwell. He hasn’t had an opportunity to play as much as he’s going to. It’s a big year for him.”
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A second-round draft pick in 2012, Maxwell didn’t start catching until his sophomore year at Division III Birmingham-Southern College. He hit .243 with two homers and 48 RBI last season with Double-A Midland, but the A’s think the left-handed hitting Maxwell has more power he can tap into.
“I’ve always had to put my hitting on hold to become a catcher. That’s what happened when I got drafted,” Maxwell said. “Now I’ve got my confidence and everybody has confidence in me behind the plate. Now I can start hitting again like I used to. So I’m excited about it. It’s a good opportunity.”