Mark Canha’s drive to perform better after 13-homer Mets debut
PORT ST. LUCIE — Mark Canha’s first season with the Mets could largely be considered a success based on his .266/.367/.403 slash with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs in 140 games.
The veteran outfielder came to camp this year aiming to increase his power production – following off-season training sessions designed to do just that.
Canha, 34, was at his best in 2019 when he hit 26 home runs for Oakland and hit a .517 slugging percentage.
Canha recently spoke to Post Sports+ about his offensive mission for this season. Canha owns a .227/.277/.273 slash without a homer in 44 at-bats this spring.
How’s it going trying to increase your power?
Markus Canha: Not good so far – a big goose egg up there in the home run column (laughs). But there is a better way. It always takes me a long time to find my momentum and my path and my legs and everything. And I feel like there’s been a nice step forward lately and I’ve been able to lift a few balls.
The thing for me is when I feel like I’m behind the ball, I feel like I can lift it and that’s usually a posture/timing thing. And lately I’ve done a really good job staying in the moment and finding the position that has allowed me to stay behind the ball. That’s exactly the key to getting the ball properly in the air, no pop-ups, with a good trajectory and snapping balls.
Are you still doing the same workouts you started with in winter?
MC: I’m still very behind. The lower body as well as the upper body. For me it’s more about my strength and just allowing me to feel good… it actually feels better when I’m stronger and have my core strength.
The key is to feel good about going out there, so I think it gives you energy to stay on top of things and also keeps you in a consistent space. It’s like anything: lifting weights is practicing to be powerful. It’s like doing caged reps, so I feel like the more I’m able to do, the power and explosiveness stays with you. When you get away from it, you may feel a little lethargic. It’s like a body keeps moving.
I feel like the more I strive for it, the better everything becomes as an athlete. It’s a holistic thing. I feel more springy, I feel more energetic, I feel like I can replicate what I’m working on in spring training.
What is a realistic goal for your home run total this season?
MC: Oh god I don’t know. I don’t think I have a good answer to that. My career high is 26, but I’ve only surpassed 20 once. I would like to reach 20. That would be really good, but we’ll see.
I try not to measure myself against such a number. You have to see how it goes. If I hit some doubles, that’s great too, so I’m not going to sit here and say, “I’d really like to hit 20 home runs.” If I could, that would be great, but you just want to feel like you’re doing the Drive the ball and deal damage. You want to be one of those players in the lineup that the other team is afraid of all the time. You have to be that threat, and that’s exactly what I want.
It sounds like you’re saying it’s not all about home runs. Would that be an accurate assessment?
MC: You have to see how the year goes. I don’t scold the Homers. It’s a difficult way to evaluate yourself. Getting caught up in home runs can also affect you mentally. Let’s focus on winning games here, not hitting home runs, and that will take care of itself. As long as I’m dealing damage and getting extra base hits, I’m fine with that.
Leiter’s nod after the Hall of Fame nod
Al Leiter has begun preparations for his induction into the Mets Hall of Fame, which is scheduled for June 3.
Howard Johnson and Mets cast members Gary Cohen and Howie Rose will join leaders in this year’s class.
Leiter — who arrived at camp earlier this week as a guest pitching instructor — said he asked former general manager Steve Phillips, who brought him to the Mets in a 1998 trade, to attend. Leiter also wants Bobby Valentine at the event, but the former Mets exec was non-binding because of his work as an Angels studio analyst. Valentine moved to Southern California last year.
“I told Bobby I didn’t want to refer to him in a speech from afar,” said Leiter. “A lot of times in life we don’t recognize and appreciate people who give us the opportunity to put us in a position to succeed or fail, and sport is the ultimate, isn’t it? Through Bobby’s confidence, trust and belief that I’ve been doing my thing here for seven years – and he was here for five of my seven years – he has empowered me to create incredible baseball memories and moments.”
Leiter cited Valentin’s decision to let the left-hander throw a full game in the 1999 wildcard tiebreaker in Cincinnati. The left-hander ended the defining game of his career with a two-hit shutout and sent the Mets into the playoffs.
Valentine also gave Leiter the ball for Game 1 of the World Series against the Yankees in 2000. In Game 5, Valentine left Leiter in the game to throw 142 pitches. The Yankees took the lead in that series with Luis Sojo’s ninth-inning dribbling through the middle.
“If [Valentine] I didn’t have that confidence in myself, I don’t know if I would go into the Mets Hall of Fame,” said Leiter.
This “ghost” story is a bit scary
It doesn’t bode well that Kodai Senga has refrained from throwing his signature “ghost” forkball in his last two starts because of concerns about starting the season in optimal health.
The pitch likely contributed to the tendinitis Senga had at the base of his right index finger two weeks ago, which caused him to miss a scheduled start.
Senga has indicated that the larger baseball used in the US poses a challenge.
Also worth seeing is whether Carlos Carrasco returns to the mound Tuesday from what manager Buck Showalter has described as “elbow maintenance.”
What it all means, as tempted as the Mets may be to try Tylor Megill in the bullpen, the right-hander will be needed as a depth of rotation if he doesn’t crack the starting five in his contest with David Peterson for Jose Quintana’s place.
https://nypost.com/2023/03/24/mark-canhas-drive-to-add-power-after-13-homer-mets-debut/ Mark Canha’s drive to perform better after 13-homer Mets debut