Programming note: For comprehensive A’s coverage from Arizona, watch SportsNet Central tonight at 6 p.m., 10:30 and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
MESA, Ariz. – For the briefest of periods, Mark Canha was picturing life with the Colorado Rockies, and it was a pleasant thought.
The Rockies chose the Miami Marlins’ farm hand in December’s Rule 5 draft, but about an hour later he was shipped to the A’s in a deal that had been worked out beforehand. Oakland sent minor league pitcher Austin House and cash to Colorado in exchange for the first baseman/outfielder.
Canha, who is from San Jose and attended Cal, said he and his wife started jumping up and down at the news he was going to a Bay Area team.
“I was definitely looking for a change of scenery,” he said. “There was excitement from the Rockies thing and then 10 minutes later I get this call from Oakland. It was like, from good to even better.”
Now the work begins.
As a Rule 5 pick, Canha (pronounced CAN-uh) must remain on the A’s 25-man roster all season or else be offered back the Marlins, his original club, for $25,000. It’s a terrific opportunity for a player who has spent 4 ½ years in the minors, and Oakland could use a right-handed bat with some pop. But Canha tries to keep things in perspective.
“It’s the same game,” he said. “I’m just taking the approach to go out there and work hard every day. It’s nothing new. Just because the circumstances are different, the approach is just the same.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin acknowledges Canha is in a unique situation compared to the other 60 players in camp. The one thing he doesn’t want Canha to do is feel he’s got a spot sewn up.
“He’s gotta look at it as I’m trying to make the team,” Melvin said. “… (But) the reason you pick up a guy like that, you have the intent of keeping him, certainly like we did with (Nate) Freiman (a Rule 5 pick in 2013).”
Canha is a .285 career hitter in the minors. Last year he enjoyed an impressive all-around season at Triple-A New Orleans, hitting .303 with 20 home runs and 82 RBI to go with a .384 on-base percentage.
The A’s envision Canha potentially getting time against left-handed pitchers at both first base and left field. He split his time at Cal between first and the outfield, and he played both in the Marlins’ system.
But Canha would like to add to his position resume.
He was forced to play third base last season at Triple-A for 18 games due to an injury to a teammate. It was trial by fire, but Canha enjoyed it.
“I need more reps at third. That’s probably a position I feel like I can play if need be,” he said. “I had never even worked on it before. It was crazy, but I think that’s the best way to learn though, especially at Triple-A. You get a little taste of all the nuances at the position and I liked it a lot.”