Change offers Canha opportunity to go home
Power-hitting OF/1B gets chance to stay in bigs
MESA, Ariz. -- Mark Canha and his wife, Marci, always wanted to settle down in the Bay Area. A life in baseball, though, comes without the freedom to plan such things. So when Canha heard he had been selected by Colorado in December's Rule 5 Draft, after five seasons in Miami's organization, he again set aside that vision.
He only had to wait 10 minutes for it to become a reality, though, when he was suddenly on the phone with the A's, who had pulled off a quick trade (for right-handeder Austin House and cash) with the Rockies.
"It was really cool," said Canha, who played at Cal Berkeley with A's shortstop Marcus Semien. "I was really wanting something to happen, and it hadn't been happening for me in the last couple years, so when it did, there was a lot of relief and excitement.
"The opportunity was just never there for me in Miami. I just needed a change of scenery."
The Bay Area is home to Canha, who grew up in San Jose worshiping Barry Bonds. Canha shares an affinity for home runs with his idol, giving the A's a potential power source to compensate for the loss of several home run hitters -- Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes -- in recent months.
"I love hitting home runs," said Canha, who likes to refer to singles as "fillers." "It's the best part of this game, the coolest thing in my opinion to do in this game. My approach is kinda just let it fly and get good quality swings in, and usually when I'm doing that to the best of my ability, the ball will go out. You have to pick and choose your spots, but most of the time I try to hit a home run."
Canha hit 20 of them in Triple-A New Orleans last year, batting .303 with a .384 on-base percentage. He's a .285 career hitter with a .474 slugging percentage in the Minors and has reached double-digit figures in home runs in three of four full professional seasons while spending most of them playing first base and left field, where the A's will give him a long look.
As a Rule 5 pick, the 26-year-old Canha must remain on the A's 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Marlins. Nate Freiman was in the same situation at this time two years ago, and now he finds himself behind Canha on the depth chart at first base, behind projected starter Ike Davis, in part because of the unique circumstances.
"We'll see how it goes," said manager Bob Melvin. "You never know how things are going to play out over the course of spring, but [Freiman] is probably a little behind Canha here as far as the big league roster.
"The reason you pick up a guy like that, you have the intent of keeping him, certainly like we did with Freiman."