If Mark Canha stays healthy for the remainder of the 2022 season, he’ll be on pace to play 134 games in his debut campaign for the New York Mets — a number that some might find understandably low.
The 33-year-old signed a two-year, $26.7 million deal with the Mets over the winter where expectations indicated that he would be the team’s everyday left-fielder. Instead, he’s played 91 of the team’s first 110 games, which included Monday night in which he didn’t crack the starting lineup for the team’s series opener against the Cincinnati Reds.
He’s started just one of the previous six games that he’s appeared in, which won’t do much to maintain any sort of momentum at the plate — but manager Buck Showalter squashed any inclination of their being frustration from the veteran.
“If you look up ‘professional’ and ‘winning player’, Mark fits both of those,” Showalter said prior to Monday night’s game. “Mark just wants the Mets, his teammates [to succeed] and wants to contribute.
“Don’t underestimate his competitive fire. This guy’s just solid since the day he got to Port St. Lucie and I can see why he was so coveted by the organization.”
Such is life in the veteran manager’s platoon system that puts at-bats at a premium, especially after the Mets acquired Tyler Naquin to eat up innings in left field while creating a platoon at DH with Daniel Vogelbach and Darin Ruf.
Canha has been able to mold his game to fit more of Showalter’s offensive mold. Entering his first season with the Mets with a .244 batting average and a .344 on-base percentage during seven seasons with the Oakland Athletics, he’s batting .264 with a .362 on-base percentage. His strikeout rate has also dropped significantly, shrinking from 25.6% with the Athletics to 21.8% with the Mets.
Then there’s the versatility that makes him an invaluable contributor to Showalter, which won’t keep him out of the lineup for long with a busy stretch of 15 games in 14 days beginning Tuesday.
“He can play first base, left field, right field, center field. I can try to get some guys off the field the next three days,” Showalter said. “I think he really has a trust in what everybody from the trainers to the nutritional team says. He’s a very articulate, smart guy who understands the end game.
“He wants to win. Don’t ever underestimate him because he understands certain things. He’s a get-after-it guy, I like Mark a lot.”