Mancini returns and gets warm welcome: 'I almost teared up' - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Mancini returns and gets warm welcome: ‘I almost teared up’

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Trey Mancini played his first game for the Orioles in nearly a year on Sunday, and though it was just the first Grapefruit League game of the season, it was special.

Last March 12, Mancini underwent surgery for colon cancer and missed the season as he underwent five months of chemotherapy.

Mancini was back, getting a single to center in his first at-bat, striking out in the third inning, and making a throwing error at first, allowing the Pittsburgh Pirates to score two runs.

“I really tried to appreciate and cherish today,” Mancini said in a video conference call after he left the game, which was won by the Pirates, 6-4. “I see it as a really big first step.”

When Mancini came to bat, the crowd of 1,705 at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida, which was limited to 25 percent capacity, stood and applauded. His teammates and the Pirates also applauded, and the home plate umpire gave Mancini extra time to soak in the moment. Everyone seemed to realize its significance.

“It was amazing,” Mancini said. “I almost teared up a little bit. I’m not going to lie. Everybody gave me a standing ovation. I saw the guys on the field clapping on the Pirates, and in their dugout, of course, our team and our fans, and it meant the world to me. It was a really cool moment and one of my favorite moments in my baseball career.

“I think it was a huge moment for me, personally, getting back in a game, just another milestone that I could check off here.”

It was a day he won’t forget.

“Definitely was a moment where I felt like it came full circle,” Mancini said. “I thought more about everything that happened today than I have in a long time. I’ve tried in a lot of ways to move on and not think too much about last year.”

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On Sunday, though, he took time to savor the moment before moving on.

Manager Brandon Hyde appreciated that Pirates manager Derek Shelton, pitcher Chad Kuhl and catcher Tony Wolters recognized the moment.

“Really cool, hats off to all the fans who were here, recognizing and acknowledging Trey,” Hyde said. “[The Pirates were] giving him a little bit of time, recognizing that it was special moment for Trey. It was a goosebumps moment. I thought it was just a real class act by the Pirates and the fans.”

Thomas Eshelman, who started for the Orioles and allowed two runs in the top of the first, realized that this wasn’t just another spring training game.

“That was special,” Eshelman said. “I was obviously just got caught up with what just happened with myself, selfishly … I look up and see everyone standing for Trey. Of course, I immediately started clapping my hands. It’s something that is super special to happen to a great human being, and I’m just excited to have him back on the field.”

Mancini wasn’t critical of his at-bats.

“I felt better at the plate than I expected,” Mancini said. “For the most part, I felt like I had a good mindset up there, picked up where I left off. Still some work to do in some places, but I’m really happy with how today went overall.”

He also wasn’t overly critical of a throwing error to second that allowed two runs to score

“Of course, the first ball that I get is a double-play ball,” Mancini said. “I actually thought I made a good throw there. [Bryan] Reynolds made a really good baseball play there to get on the outside of the baseline, and he got his hand up as the ball was coming up. It was a really good play on his part, but next time I’m going to make sure I get that throw a little more to my right. I learned the hard way there.”

Mancini’s final game of spring training 2020 came on March 2nd, almost a year ago.

“For as much that happened last year, it didn’t really feel like a year since I played,” he said. “We’ve gotten some live at-bats, too, and that really helps … seeing live pitching, that’s the biggest name of the game. Whether it’s been six months since I’ve seen live pitching like normal or a year, it’s going to look at little fast and everything at first. It really doesn’t feel any different than any other first game of spring training.”

Mancini praised his girlfriend, Sara Perlman, and his parents as well as an aunt, uncle and cousins, all of whom came to the game. He made a point to thank his surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, his oncologist, and the nurses.

“Nobody was able to go to treatments with me, so the nurses, too, helped me get through the treatments. They were amazing. There’s a lot of great people you’re going to meet along the way that helped me through it.”

Hyde said that Mancini will play every other day initially. After taking Monday off, he’s scheduled to play against the New York Yankees on Tuesday in Sarasota.

“I really want to feel ready for the season,” Mancini said. “Just like every other spring training.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Bancells Moustache

    February 28, 2021 at 4:11 pm

    Its a rainy cold Sunday afternoon in Maryland, your paying customers haven’t had access to your product and your most popular player is stepping to the plate in a powerful moment, having faced down cancer, on a bright sunny day in Florida.

    And no one will see it.

    That is a monumental failure. Everyone involved with the Baltimore Orioles, from ownership on down should be fired tonight. What an unbelievable pile of dung this organization is.

    (Yes I cut/pasted my comment from the last article, it needed to be said twice)

    • dlgruber1

      February 28, 2021 at 5:21 pm

      BM, as far as I’m concerned that should be said EVERY DAY! This was not only a terrible oversight by the O’s, MLB network should’ve cut into whatever programming they had on at the time and shown his AB as well. O’s fans don’t exactly have a lot to feel good about right now and it’s just completely inexcusable and unforgivable not to have seen that live.

  2. CalsPals

    February 28, 2021 at 4:24 pm

    Congrats to Trey…wish I could’ve seen it live…god bless…go O’s…

  3. BrooksPJs

    February 28, 2021 at 4:34 pm

    Great article Rich! Good to see Trey healthy and back on the field. Ditto CalsPals sentiments – God bless and go O’s

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 1, 2021 at 7:10 am

      Thank you, BrooksPJs.

  4. Boog Robinson Robinson

    February 28, 2021 at 7:22 pm

    Welcome back Mr. Mancini. God bless.

  5. Eastern Sho Joe

    March 1, 2021 at 12:51 am

    What a great spirit Trey has. Rich, some of the other sites wrote more about the lacking performance of some of the players than you did. We’ll have plenty of time for that, so thank you for focusing more on what was important today, which was a true example of what winning is all about. Class.

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 1, 2021 at 7:10 am

      Joe, since I’m not at spring training for the first time in 15 years this year, I have to rely on TV and radio, like everyone else. I thought Trey’s story was the important one, and everything else was secondary. We’ll have plenty of time for the other stuff.

  6. Baltimore Castaway

    March 1, 2021 at 9:54 am

    Good Morning Everyone,

    It is great to have Mancini back. His is a highlight of the Spring in MLB, not just Baltimore.

    Now for the difficult part of this posting; Some of the most difficult and most painful elements of this re-build are still ahead. The two most valuable trade pieces that Elias has are Mancini and Santander–they need to be moved this season when their value is at its highest… These two very fine and talented young men would provide the greatest return in talented prospects that the Orioles still desperately need.

    Mancini and Santander will not be in their prime when the young talent on the Farm rises to productivity. There are teams now (Braves? Marlins?) that would give the Orioles some very good young prospects for these two–way more than they’ve received from Bundy, Cobb et al….

    Tough message, but it needs to be put out there for us to prepare for.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      March 1, 2021 at 10:18 am

      BC … where you been?

      I didn’t want to mention trading Mancini for fear I’d sound insensitive … but since you’ve broken the ice … I agree, the O’s need to trade him if only to open up the logjam in the outfield and put Mountcastle in his best position.

      BUT … I disagree wholeheartedly about trading Santander, and for multiple reasons.
      1. He’s only 26 … so to say that he won’t be in his prime when the young prospects arrive is probably a miscalculation.
      2. How about trying to win a few THIS year….F the tanking. It’s downright embarrassing to be a fan of this organization right now.
      3. The biggest reason not to trade him is he’s is an all-star type player who’s only going to get better over 2-3 seasons. Teams need star players. Constantly trading your best players for prospects sounds like a whole lot of losing coming our way.

  7. Baltimore Castaway

    March 1, 2021 at 11:41 am

    Good to hear from you BRR.. Been doing some traveling and visiting w my grandchildren in Va. Also has been the quiet time of the baseball cycle, so I have been enjoying other poster’s commentary..

    You have a very good point on Santander. The risk for the Orioles with him is that he could indeed blossom into a full-fledged Blue Chip/Impact player at the Major League level and they would have sold short on him. Elias and Sig surely know this, so that the haul for him would have to be substantial. Another point w him is that he was a Dan Duquette signing, a shame he gets so very little credit here and anywhere else.

    Should be interesting to see how this develops.

    And yes—it is a disgrace that yesterday’s first game was not televised or even on the radio….I do have faith in the sons, but I also realize that I am an inordinate risk-taker and that it could turn out to be a foolish assumption….

    Looking forward to staying up with things now that the players are playing…

  8. dakhd1

    March 1, 2021 at 10:52 pm

    Welcome back Trey! You were missed.

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