FORT MYERS, Fla.—It had been a quiet spring for Trey Mancini. Entering Friday’s game with the Minnesota Twins, Mancini had just 15 Grapefruit League at-bats, and was hitting only .133.
In the Orioles’ 12-9 loss to the Twins at Hammond Stadium, Mancini had three hits in four at-bats, and just about doubled his spring average—to .263 and had his first extra-base hit, a fifth-inning double
Mancini missed some time when he jammed his pinkie on a headfirst slide, but that’s behind him now.
“I just really haven’t been feeling great since I came back for whatever reason,” Mancini said. “I felt loose and had some good conversations with several people the last few days. Everybody says, ‘It’s spring training,’ all this stuff, but I still want to do well, no matter what the situation is. I felt good to contribute out there.”
Because Mancini had just 15 at-bats, he hadn’t developed much of a rhythm.
“Things can kind of get magnified in the spring sometimes because it’s not many at-bats,” Mancini said.
“Just getting my timing back, not thinking about mechanics, which is what I’d been doing. When you’re thinking of mechanics, you’re not really concentrating on the ball, not the pitches being thrown, and sometimes you can swing at pitchers’ pitches, and that’s what I was doing. I tried to calm everything down, and it worked out.”
Manager Brandon Hyde said that he liked what he saw from Mancini.
“He’s so hard on himself,” Hyde said. “I just want him to relax and worry about taking good at-bats, and whatever happens, happens.”
For Mancini, he’s noticed a new tenor to the Orioles. He’s in his fourth spring training with the team.
“When we got here, the whole theme was a good atmosphere and everybody had such good energy, and that hasn’t faded at all,” Mancini said.
“I think during spring, especially around this time a lot, everybody’s just ready for the season to start, and at this point, a lot of times, you pretty much knew what the team would be, and I don’t think that’s the case anymore. There’s still a lot of competition going on, and that’s always a good thing, I think. I’ve been really impressed just how everybody’s gone about their business the whole month. It’s been just a joy to be around.”
Most of the players in the Orioles’ camp were in the organization last year, and of the franchise-record 56 players used in 2019, 34 are still with the Orioles.
“It’s a lot of new people, but a lot of people were in the organization but weren’t playing at this level a lot or at all,” Mancini said.
“A lot of guys have known each other for years at this point. We’ve all gotten to know each other over even last spring and then over the course of last season, a lot of guys came up and made their debuts.”
Many of those players haven’t seen Mancini at his best. In 2017, he finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting, hitting .293 with 24 home runs and 78 RBIs. He slumped last year, and finished with a .242 average with the same number of home runs—24, but just 58 RBIs.
“Certainly the hardest point in my baseball career was back then,” Mancini said. “You learn your lessons from your hardest times. That’s pretty much what failure is, not learning from your mistakes, so you’ve got to find a way to get through not feeling great, still going out there and being your best every day.”
Mancini says this spring has been a bonding experience for the new Orioles.
“As that happens, you get to know guys a lot better, and the chemistry just always gets better,” Mancini said. “We’ve been doing really cool things like having team barbecues, and we’ve been trying to do a little more things as a team, too, and I think that goes a long way as a team because we’re with each other more than we’re with our own families, honestly.
“Your team is kind of like your family throughout the year, and you really want to enjoy who you’re around and get to know them kind of on a personal level as well. It just makes you want to play really hard for the guy next to you, and I think we’ve been doing a really good job of that.”
At January’s FanFest, Mancini joked that with the departure of so many veterans, the 26-year-old was now giving advice on 401(k) plans to his younger teammates.
“It’s more been just like little things, like a lot of the guys who come up for the day from minor league camp want to know how the day-to-day thing goes here,” Mancini said.
“A couple of them have asked me because I know them. A couple of guys have asked me for a couple of pieces of advice, but I don’t think I’m like a wise old man at the same time, either. I’m still pretty young, myself. This is my fourth major league camp so I’ve been around for a while, and I usually know how things operate at this level.”
This is the first time Mancini has been on an Orioles team without Buck Showalter as manager and Dan Duquette as GM.
“I think this year we know a little bit more ahead of time where we’re going to be,” Mancini said. “A lot of times the past couple of years, you never really knew until the night before, not even until that day whether you’d be playing a lot. I think we have a good idea of where we’re going to be in the next day or even two days in the future this year, so that’s different.
“There’s no one way to do things, either. I’m always going to be appreciative for Buck and Dan. They drafted me. I made my major league debut for them. I’ll always be appreciative to them for that. I’m also really excited to play for Hyde under this new regime. I consider myself very lucky that I’ve gotten to experience both.”