Mets Notes: Mark Canha wants to hit more home runs; Starling Marte easing into camp
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The Mets could use a few more home runs from their lineup. Mark Canha is hoping to provide them.
The outfielder reported to camp on Sunday making no secret of his desire to hit for power this season. He’s healthy and he structured his offseason training in a way that he thinks will help him produce more power.
“I’d like to hit for more home runs,” Canha said Sunday at Clover Field. “I think I had a career-high in doubles last year, so I’m happy with that. But I think the way I trained this offseason, I kind of trained in an attempt to try to hit more home runs. That was the glaring thing from last year was that the home runs were down. I think there were a lot of reasons for that that were outside of my control. But that’s kind of the goal.”
Canha’s 24 doubles were a career-high for the 34-year-old outfielder, two more than his previous best, a mark he hit in three previous seasons (2015, 2018 and 2021 with the Oakland A’s). His 13 home runs were four fewer than in 2021 and 13 fewer than his career-high mark of 26 he set in 2019.
Canha’s 2022 season — his first with the Mets — was good, but by his own admission, not great.
“It was what I’m used to doing. It was a comfortable season in which I was pretty consistent,” he said. “Obviously, you want to play great. You’re not in this to be good. We’re in this to be great. And I’d like to be great this year.”
Working with hitting coaches, strength coaches and performance coaches, Canha focused on lifting and increasing his explosiveness. It’s a contract year for Canha so more home runs would be beneficial in the short- and long-term.
Manager Buck Showalter said more home runs are “definitely in there” and has noticed a more muscular physique. Canha managed to avoid the injured list for the first time in his career last year. He liked the way Showalter and the Mets structured his workload and the number of games he played (140). This might be the sweet spot for the left fielder, but if he does end up hitting more home runs then the Mets may not be able to take him out of the lineup.
The Mets hit only 151 home runs last year, tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the 15th most in the league. They’ll start 2023 with the same lineup. General manager Billy Eppler likes well-rounded hitters which sometimes means sacrificing some home runs, but statistics have shown that the teams that hit more home runs tend to go further in the postseason.
The AL and NL champs from 2022 are evidence of that: The Houston Astros hit the fourth-most in the regular season last year (214) and the Philadelphia Phillies hit the sixth-most (205). The Mets have to contend with two top homer-hitting teams in the division with the Phillies and the Atlanta Braves.
The Mets will take all of the homers they can get.
“Last year, I gave it everything I had. I did really well, I showed people who I am and that was a very good example of my game,” Canha said. “But I think there’s more in the tank, quite frankly, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do this year.”
Outfielder Starling Marte arrived in camp Sunday as healthy as he’s been in a while. Marte played through a fractured finger last year in the playoffs, and while initially he downplayed the injury, he admitted the pain level was at “100″ at the time. Marte had two hits in the Mets’ first NL wild-card game against the San Diego Padres but went but quiet through the rest of the series (2-for-12 overall).
Marte had been playing through another injury at the time and underwent surgery on both groins a few weeks later to repair tendons that were separating from the muscle.
“It wasn’t something that I couldn’t play through which is why I did play through it. And thankfully, I was able to finish the season,” he said through a translator. “Then once the season ended, we decided to have that operation.”
The Mets expected Marte to be fully ready for spring training but Marte said he would be easing into camp to make sure his strength is where it needs to be with his core and groins. The surgery was a factor in the Dominican Republic native’s decision to skip the World Baseball Classic.
Mets owner Steve Cohen watched bullpen sessions and live batting practice on Sunday with general manager Billy Eppler and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, a member of the Mets board of directors.