Canha more comfortable after Minors stint

Outfielder knocks 2 singles in first start after 3 weeks in Triple-A

Canha more comfortable after Minors stint

OAKLAND -- Mark Canha feels exponentially better at the plate following his three-week stint with Triple-A Nashville.

The Oakland outfielder, recalled just ahead of game time Tuesday, was in the starting lineup for Wednesday's 3-1 win vs. the Angels, as the A's hope to keep him in rhythm.

He responded with hits in his first two at-bats and scored on Chad Pinder's two-run homer.

"What we wanted to accomplish was, after basically a year off last year, let him go down there and get a bunch of games," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He almost had an RBI a game while he was there, so he feels good, and now it's just about getting him in the lineup semi-consistently here to keep him productive like he was in the past."

Canha, demoted April 19 following a sluggish start, hit .232 in 19 games for the Sounds, but he also totaled five home runs, 16 RBIs and 10 walks.

Canha's RBI single to left

"I think that was just really good to see a lot of pitches," Canha said Wednesday morning. "That's something I never really did. I always had this aggressive mindset, and I think it just slowed me down a little bit and made me more aware of what's actually happening when I'm up there."

Canha spent most of his time with Nashville in right field, where he was stationed Wednesday, but he also gained more experience in center field. Canha has been acclimating to the position since Spring Training and said his "confidence is fairly good out there."

Canha's diving catch

He relayed as much to Melvin, who only has one true backup center fielder in Canha and said he feels comfortable playing him in any of the three spots.

"I'm learning where to play guys," Canha said. "Reading swings was the thing I never really had to do before, and now I'm comfortable doing that and telling guys where to play."

Canha is only two years removed from a rookie season that saw him hit 16 home runs with 70 RBIs in 124 games.

"I feel good," he said. "It was nice to slow things down and not feel like you have to produce, even though you want to do well no matter where you are, just as a competitor. But it was nice to be like, 'OK, let's try this right now and see how it feels, and let's see some pitches.' When you're up here, you're not experimenting, you're competing. It was nice to slow the game down and kind of get my wits about me and have the chance to get a good feel before coming back."

Worth noting

• Right-hander John Axford (shoulder) threw 21 pitches in live batting practice Wednesday and has been cleared to begin a rehab assignment Saturday. The location has yet to be announced.

• Melvin said the A's are still mulling whether to have lefty Sean Manaea (shoulder) make a second rehab start before returning to the rotation. Manaea threw four innings with Nashville on Tuesday, reporting no physical issues.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.