A’s option ice-cold Canha, call up red-hot Jaff Decker

The Oakland Athletics made a move Saturday morning, calling up outfielder Jaff Decker, who was the final cut from the Spring Training roster.

Decker slashed an impressive .333/.450/.515 with 11 hits — six doubles — in 33 Cactus League at-bats. And he has not cooled off with the flight north. Through his first eight 2017 games with Triple-A Nashville, Decker has improved on that spring slash, posting a .387/.472/.452. The lefty’s power is limited, with just two extra-base hits, both doubles, but his patience — five walks — is something the A’s (5-6) desperately need.

To make room for Decker, utility man Mark Canha was optioned to the Nashville Sounds. Canha had picked up just two hits in his first 19 at-bats (.105).

Manager Bob Melvin said that the move was forced both by Canha’s early season struggles and Decker, who the skipper said prior to the season opener was tough to cut, getting off to a hot start:

“(Decker) had a great spring, and got off to a really good start this year too. When we were looking for who would replace Mark, it was pretty easy to identify him.”

Oakland’s newest outfielder was in Tennessee Friday, where the Sounds lost 3-2 to the Oklahoma City Dodgers. After receiving a phone call from Nashville manager Ryan Christenson, Decker got on a flight to Oakland, landing at around midnight.

“He told me I needed to pack up and be on my way. It was a short, but nice phone call to get.”

About the travel, Decker added:

“It was late. But, it was either that or 6 a.m. this morning, so I got in and got some sleep. I’m good to go.”

Prior to spending the night flying and thinking about the many things he said had to go through his head, and getting about five hours of sleep, Decker was busy posting the A’s Triple-A affiliate’s second-highest average (Franklin Barreto, .394). That start, he said has been about keeping his routine, and not letting “the hangover” of not making the big club out of spring affect him.

Instead of letting the pain hurt, the 27-year-old has gone about his business, kept his swing, and all the while kept an eye on the boys in green and gold:

“Once you get sent down, you still follow your boys and how the team is doing, and staying up with what’s going on. I flew in last night, and super excited to be in the lineup today, and hopefully I do something that affects the game somehow.”

In his first day with the A’s, Decker is penciled into the eight-hole and center field spot. It will be the 24th time in his career that he has gotten an MLB start — 60 games played total. He has accrued 18 hits — two doubles, one triple and one home run — in 111 career big league at-bats (.162).

Canha will report to Nashville, where he will get the much-needed every-day at-bats that he has not gotten since losing almost all of the 2016 season to hip surgery.

Said Melvin:

“We just felt like Mark needed to play on a consistent basis. Just playing against lefties, and being out basically the entire year last year, he needs to go down and get some consistent at-bats.”

The skipper added:

“I have no doubt he’ll be back and performing in the fashion he did two years ago, but I don’t feel like were doing him any good playing him once every third or fourth day.”

Also worth noting

Marcus Semien is not in the lineup Saturday after feeling increased pain in his right wrist. Melvin said that the pain has been nagging the shortstop all season, though it did not affect his throwing until Friday night. Semien underwent an MRI early Saturday. The team will know the results of those tests following Saturday’s game.


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s sports director and Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.