Mancini appreciates warmth, wants bat to warm up; Relates to Mountcastle; Fans bring atmosphere - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Mancini appreciates warmth, wants bat to warm up; Relates to Mountcastle; Fans bring atmosphere

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

BALTIMORE—In his first week of regular-season games since returning from colon cancer surgery and months of chemotherapy, Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini has received warm welcomes from fans, opposing players and even umpires.

Now, he just wants to play baseball.

After seven games, Mancini is batting .179 (5-for-28) with 3 RBIs and 11 strikeouts. The 2019 Most Valuable Oriole knows he can do better.

“From the Yankees series through today, it’s actually probably been four of the most challenging games I’ve ever gone through in my career,” Mancini said.

In those four games, Mancini is 2-for-16. He did single in his final at-bat in the eighth inning of Thursday’s 7-3 loss to the Red Sox in the Orioles home opener.

“I expect a lot out of myself,” Mancini said. “There was a lot of pressure on my shoulders in trying to perform too much and prove that I’m the same guy, and I know I am. I don’t think I’ve gone about these four games the right way.”

Half of the 16 at-bats have been strikeouts. Mancini has always struck out often. From 2017-2019, Mancini averaged 145 strikeouts, but he’s also driven the ball.

“From pitch selection to everything, I took a little step back, especially before my last at-bat today and settled myself down. In that regard, I’m not pleased. But as far as we go, I’m off to a 4-3 start. I know today didn’t end up ideal, but I thought we played well on the road, and hope we can bounce back on Saturday.”

Mancini is hoping that he’ll be able to settle down in the way he did in his final at-bat on Thursday.

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“No matter how long a slump, and I don’t know if I would call this a slump, it’s been, I don’t know how many at-bats, 28 or something, but it feels like a lot more,” he said.

“I feel like I’ve played in a month’s worth of games, and it’s been one week. At that same time, we have [155] games left. I need to realize that. Take what I did that last at-bat and learn from it. I just need to stick to an approach up there, and I have not been doing that well at all.”

Mancini was asked if he’d taken any keepsakes from his comeback games.

“No, I haven’t. Now that you say that, I kind of wish I did,” Mancini said, laughing. “Keep a ball from the first Boston game. Maybe I’ll go grab one from the bucket from today. It’s a good idea. I should have done that.”

Mancini on Mountcastle: Mancini was a first baseman who moved to the outfield to gain playing time when he became a full-time major league player in 2017. Rookie Ryan Mountcastle was moved to left field to try to find a position for him in the majors. Mountcastle  has struggled in left, particularly in the past two games, and Mancini has provided encouragement.

“We have talked about it some,” Mancini said. “It’s a really hard transition. I think between last year and this year, I think Ryan’s done such a good job. He’s like me. We never really played outfield until we had to out there, so it’s a learning curve.

“You’ve got to have certain balls hit to you. The one that Gary Sánchez hit to him [Wednesday], I had that same ball hit to me, I think from him, and I did the same thing [Mountcastle missed the ball]. It’s really hard. You get to know guys the more you play them, sometimes how the ball comes off your bat. So, everything’s a learning experience.

“I’ve seen him play out there a lot. In spring training, I was so impressed with how he played out there. There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be great out there.”

Fans in the ballpark: Fans have brought back atmosphere to the ballpark, getting rid of piped-in crowd noise and cardboard cutouts.

Even at reduced capacities at Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium and Oriole Park, the enthusiasm that fans bring is irreplaceable.

What I’ve noticed this past week is that most of the fans seem to be the hardcore and not casual fans. They’re the ones who missed going to the ballpark the most, and the buzz of a crowd of 4,500 at Fenway is noticed and appreciated.

The Orioles drew 10,150 on Thursday, and it was interesting seeing fans sprinkled in all sections of the park, Unlike many Red Sox games in the past, it was an Orioles crowd.

Seats were reserved for season ticket holders, but few Boston fans were around. When the Yankees come later this month, it will be interesting to see how many of the 10,000 or so are wearing pinstripes.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Orial

    April 9, 2021 at 8:06 am

    Interesting writeup Rich on the parallels of 2 careers(Mancini/Mountcastle). Yes the accolades have been well worth it and heart warming but Trey will be the first to tell you–time to move on. Is it affecting his play?–maybe but he does need to get down to work. As far as Mountcastle–yes Trey did struggle out there but never this bad. Fans will say–“give him time he’s learning a new position”. No. He doesn’t have the “tools” to learn it and regular season games are not the time–not fair to the rest of the team to have that caliber in LF. A little harsh.–maybe but he can’t do it. Could it affect his hitting?–who knows. All these years we’ve had that glut at DH/1B so what does a few more years of it matter. Elias can build a fine Minor League system(if you base it on no game action) BUT he doesn’t have too keen an eye on Major League team building. Geesh this offense is awful. Btw how’s Hanser doing?

    • Shamus

      April 9, 2021 at 9:46 am

      Elias was hired in November of 2018. He inherited a mess. He didn’t draft Mountcastle..I agree that Mountcastle is probably DH material but the kid can hit. With Hays out why not see what Mountcastle can do out there ? Yeah he looks rough and uncomfortable but give the guy a chance to get better . Only experience can help . If it affects his offense, then DH he will be.

    • Hallbe62

      April 9, 2021 at 10:06 am

      Totally agree with your assessment of Mounty. His first step is not all that quick and he’s still having trouble judging fly balls off the bat. That’s a recipe for disaster, and I’m not sure Mancini could do any better.

      LF is not where 1st basemen go to die. Let’s find an everyday LF’er that can run, catch, and hit north of .220. I’m not greedy

  2. mlbbirdfan

    April 9, 2021 at 11:10 am

    Watching Mountcastle in left is painful. Props to Mancini, standing up for his teammate. I differ with his judgment: Mountcastle will never be an outfielder. Maybe Mountcastle and Mancini should swap positions while Hays is out. And yes, sitting in the ballpark with a good vantage point, our AB’s were pitiful Thursday. Long year ahead. GREAT to be back “home”!!

  3. CalsPals

    April 9, 2021 at 11:43 am

    Seems like the two “major” FA signings were peace offerings to the fans, thought they might be trade bait later, now understand why they were available, no one else wanted them, should’ve just played all our youngens, think fans would understand true growing pains, just watched the Bad News Bears, was just as entertaining…go O’s…

    • BarstoolSleeper

      April 9, 2021 at 1:33 pm

      No one said they were major FA’s. They’re stop gaps until our youngens are ready to be promoted to the show. Also no one thought this was a good team this year. The O’s were given a 0.0 chance to make the playoffs and an over/under 64.5 wins. They’re young, the pitching is bad and there’s going to be some growing pains.

    • CalsPals

      April 9, 2021 at 1:57 pm

      You’ll notice how major is written, no one said they were major FA’s, this goes beyond growing pains…go O’s…

    • Bhoffman1

      April 9, 2021 at 2:44 pm

      Rather see some of the youngens here now instead of the terrible free agents they signed as stop gap. Some people i
      on this site just accept losing year after year. I say lose with your prospects and win some then loss big time with retreads like Galvis or Mexican league players like Urias

    • BarstoolSleeper

      April 9, 2021 at 2:59 pm

      Bhoff, the Orioles farm system is ranked 5th in MLB for the first time in team history. That’s the process of a rebuild. Boost the farm and DEVELOP talent at the minor league level. Again, no one thought this was a good team this year. This team was stripped down to the beat bones and it takes time to rebuild. Elias was hired to do a job so give him a fair shot to do it.

    • CalsPals

      April 9, 2021 at 6:57 pm

      I’m guessing part of our “rise” to the top 5 is organizations that were rated ahead of us actually are playing their youngens, while ours will be sitting until Star Wars day…go O’s…

    • BarstoolSleeper

      April 9, 2021 at 8:49 pm

      Jays marlins mariners and rays from ranking 4-1 respectively. The jays rebuild is finished and they have an awesome young core with more talent to follow and the rays are the rays, always talented. The marlins and Seattle are rebuilding just as the orioles are

  4. Orial

    April 9, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    Dear Mr. Hyde here’s a suggestion. Go back to game one. Look at your lineup. Put Rio back at 2B,put Franco back at 3B,put Mountcastle/Mancini at 1B/DH.and put McKenna in LF. If you must make your defensive shuffle at 2B/3B in the 8th. Thank you. Problem solved.

  5. dlgruber1

    April 9, 2021 at 3:48 pm

    My comment is about the attendance. As someone who has missed only 6 Openers, including yesterday, since 1979, I wanna know how ANY Red Sox fans got tickets? A month ago we were told only season tickets holders would get Opening Day tickets, then I saw an email saying single game tickets were on sale except for the opener. Then I receive an email LESS THAN 24 HOURS before the game saying Opening weekend single game tickets still available INCLUDING the opener. By then I’d had plans that couldn’t be changed so I couldn’t go. Had I known even a week in advance I’d have bought tickets! Is there any part of this organization that is run efficiently any more?!?!

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 9, 2021 at 4:46 pm

      Dave, they could have gotten them on the secondary market if they were willing to pay up.

    • dlgruber1

      April 9, 2021 at 6:04 pm

      I get that Rich, professional sports is the only place I know that there is legalized scalping. If I’m caught selling my ticket for more than cost I’m probably getting arrested yet StubHub and others can charge more than twice the face value. Nice. No, my main point was they originally said there would be 11K tickets available to season ticket holders only. Then, as I said, the DAY BEFORE I get an email saying single game tickets were available for the Opening weekend INCLUDING Opening Day. By then my plans were set and couldn’t be changed. Very frustrating. Thanks for the reply tho.

  6. mlbbirdfan

    April 9, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    Here is a possible explanation. Maybe the Orioles “held back“ a few tickets to satisfy late requests from season-ticket holder‘s. When those did not materialize, they put them on the market

    • dlgruber1

      April 9, 2021 at 8:33 pm

      That’s a possibility but if you’re a season ticket holder, and you couldn’t go all last year, and you need a late request for Opening Day, then what the hell do you have season tickets for?

  7. mlbbirdfan

    April 9, 2021 at 10:16 pm

    If you ask that question, you are not a season ticket holder … in our season ticket partnership we have eight partners … the options were buy zero tickets or all 96 tickets in April and May. Neither option was attractive. Every one of our eight partners fits the category I described

    • dlgruber1

      April 10, 2021 at 12:20 am

      Sucks to be you guys. Sorry, that was uncalled for. In all seriousness, for an organization that is throwing nickels around like their manhole covers to demand ticket holders do that is ridiculous. They should be kissing your ass to come to ANY games with the product they’ve put out there the last few years. I appreciate the clarification tho I’m still pissed I only find out a day before the game the tickets were available, but at least I understand better how that happened.

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