MESA, Ariz. – Mark Canha is feeling the fatigue, not that you’d know it from his hitting lately.
He played hero for the A’s once again Friday, bashing a three-run walk-off homer off Texas’ Phil Klein to send Oakland to a 7-6 victory at Hohokam Stadium. That came two days after he connected for a game-tying two-run shot in the ninth inning against Milwaukee.
Talk about timely production.
Canha, 26, is trying to play his way on to the 25-man roster as a Rule 5 pick. He must stay on Oakland’s big league club all season or be offered back to the Miami Marlins for $25,000. Judging from manager Bob Melvin’s comments throughout camp, Canha has figured into the A’s plans all along. But after going through a rough stretch with the bat early in the exhibition season, he’s done well to rebound strong of late.
The San Jose native and former Cal standout is hitting .385 (10-for-26) over his past eight games, and Melvin credits Canha for his intellect at the plate.
“He knows what he’s doing up there,” Melvin said. “He definitely has a good idea of what his strengths and weaknesses are. He’s got some power, as we’ve seen. He’s gonna strike out some, but he’s gonna (homer) too. … He’s pretty confident in what he’s doing at the plate.”
Canha got the fastball he was looking for against Klein with two on and one out in the ninth. His thinking was simple.
“What I try to tell myself when I get in that situation is just have fun,” Canha said. “ I tend to get nervous, but when I stop thinking so much and go have fun out there, it’s the best way to approach those types of situations.”
Canha is hitting .267 in 21 games, and though he leads the team with 21 strikeouts, his three homers also are tied for the team high. He’s appeared in 10 games in left field, six in right field and six at first base. With right fielder Josh Reddick sidelined to start the regular season, Canha surely will figure into the corner outfield mix.
He’s logged a team-high 56 at-bats, which has given the front office a large body of work to evaluate.
“It’s been a long six weeks,” Canha said. “It feels like we’ve been here forever. Especially with me, I feel like I’m out there all the time. I’m tired and worn down, but I keep telling myself to keep going out there and play and stay focused.”
CAMP BATTLE: Right-hander Jesse Hahn, on turn to start the second game of the regular season against Texas if the current rotation holds, pitched well against the Rangers on Friday. He allowed just three hits and one run in 5 1/3 innings. Though Melvin said Hahn wasn’t his sharpest, the results were there, and Hahn certainly firmed up his status as a member of the five-man rotation.
He’ll be on turn to pitch Wednesday’s Cactus League finale against the Los Angeles Angels, and then appears likely to take the ball April 7 at the Coliseum against the Rangers in the second game of a season-opening four-game set.
Hahn didn’t hesitate when asked what he wants to work on in his final exhibition tune-up.
“Keep throwing that changeup until I can get it down,” he said. “I only threw about five more today. About one or two of them were good. I just want to keep improving on that.”
FAMILIAR FACE: Adam Rosales, a fan favorite in his green-and-gold days, entered the game at first base for Texas in the seventh and struck out in his only at-bat. He’s trying to win a spot on the Rangers’ roster as a backup infielder.
ODDS AND ENDS: Sean Doolittle felt fine after playing catch for the first time since suffering an offseason rotator cuff injury. He’ll play catch and then long toss at increasing distances before eventually getting on the mound. … Melvin said right-hander A.J. Griffin looked sharp in a 50-plus pitch session off the mound that featured his entire repertoire. Still no word on when Griffin, 11 months removed from Tommy John surgery, will face hitters for the first time. … Shortstop Marcus Semien was hit in the left hand by a pitch from Anthony Ranaudo in his first at-bat but stayed in the game. He made a slick defensive play to end the top of the fifth.