Mark Canha's defensive versatility key for A's in Matt Olson's absence

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It's not just that Canha can play a handful of positions - he plays them at a high level. He didn't commit a single error in 122 games last season.
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Mark Canha's defensive versatility key for A's in Matt Olson's absence originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com

OAKLAND – Chad Pinder gets a lot of credit for being the A's most versatile player, but don't forget about Mark Canha.

The 30-year-old Cal product can play first base, third base and all three outfield positions. He likely will get playing time at most, if not all, of those positions this season.

"I think it's mental as much as anything," Canha said of his ability to play multiple positions. "It's a matter of doing the work, but it's also kind of just staying fresh and taking mental reps during the game. ... Doing that kind of physical and mental preparation, you get in there and it becomes second nature."

It's not just that Canha can play a handful of positions – he plays them at a high level. He didn't commit a single error in 122 games last season.

With Matt Olson out the next several weeks with a hand injury, Canha will likely get extra time at first base, platooning with the newly-acquired Kendrys Morales.

"I'm confident (defensively)," Canha told NBC Sports California. "I work on everything. I'm still taking reps in the outfield. I'm still doing my work at first. Just kind of staying on top of everything like I always do."

Last season, Canha tore up left-handed pitching to the tune of a .282/.337/.604 slash line with 13 home runs in 149 at-bats. But don't be fooled – he can do damage against right-handed pitching as well.

"I think when I'm going good I hit them both," Canha said. "The other night in San Francisco, I had a double and a home run off Jeff Samardzija. So, I can hit them both. It doesn't matter. It's just a matter of finding my rhythm. ... That's a big part of it for me, just staying locked in and being ready whenever my number is called."

Case in point, Canha will start in center field Saturday night against Angels right-hander Félix Peña, giving Ramón Laureano a night off. Laureano has struggled to start the season, going 2-for-17 with nine strikeouts.

[RELATED: Profar already fitting in on and off the field for A's]

Canha has also proven to be a vocal leader in the clubhouse and his on-field energy is infectious. He credits the entire roster for the team's great chemistry. 

"There's that energy, there's that good vibe in here," he said. "The excitement, youth, energy, however you want to describe it, that's certainly here."