A year ago, Trey Mancini was going through five months of chemotherapy treatments after his surgery for colon cancer. On July 12th, he gets the national spotlight when he’ll participate in the Home Run Derby at Coors Field in Denver.
Mancini finished sixth in voting for American League first basemen.
“It’s been a crazy month,” Mancini said. “I don’t think I’ll be getting an All-Star nod, but when you’re asked to compete in the Home Run Derby, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
“It’s something I jumped on and, of course, I want to do it. There’s a huge audience that might not know who I am or my story. The biggest reason I wanted to do it is to show people that there’s life after a cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy.
“I was in a hospital last year 12 times for three or four hours getting infused with chemo drugs, and I want those people who are going through that right now to know that you can get through and still live a normal and thrive and compete after that. More importantly, it’s a duty that I feel to them as well.”
Mancini was hoping to be an All-Star in 2019, but left-handed pitcher John Means was chosen instead. He doesn’t expect to be added to the team.
“I never, ever expected to be in it or have the opportunity,” he said. “It’s a once-in-a lifetime thing and down the line, 10 years from now, I don’t want to look back and wish that I had been to the Home Run Derby and instead opted for a couple of days of rest. I feel good physically. I don’t feel like I need the full four days … It was a pretty easy decision.”
Mancini hasn’t thought much about the Home Run Derby, keeping his focus on the Orioles.
“I honestly have been a lot more concerned about our games and I think it’s no secret I haven’t been feeling well lately up at the plate, and I’ve been trying to address that. Normally, when I’m not feeling great at the plate, it’s something mental, but there is a little physical hitch going on that I’m working on now.
“I’m a lot more concerned about that, and I haven’t really thought about the Derby. I know I will after our game [July 10th], before the All-Star break. I’ll definitely shift my focus over to that, but right now, I’ve got a job to do for this team and figure it out a little bit, and hit like I know how to.”
Mancini is not in the lineup for Tuesday night’s game in Houston. After hitting .320 with six homers and 25 RBIs in May, he’s hitting .216 in June with three homers and 10 RBIs. Overall, he’s batting .258 with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs.
Mancini’s personal pitcher will be Notre Dame pitching coach Chuck Ristano, who was on the staff when Mancini played for the Fighting Irish. Ristano pitched to Mancini in the Big East Home Run Derby, which Mancini won.
“We jokingly said after that, after I won that, that if I was ever in the real Home Run Derby, I made a promise he could throw to me,” Mancini said. “I’m keeping that promise.”
Mancini has been gracious with his time and in sharing his story.
“I’ve been trying my best,” he said. “I want to use the platform that I have to inspire, to try to help people out. Maybe some people will get checked, will go to the doctor just because they heard my story. I’ve heard a couple of instances where people told me they did.
“I want to use my platform for good, so anytime I have a request, or anybody wants to talk about what I went through and, quite frankly, still go through, I want to do it to help others. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t get tiring at times when you’re playing major league baseball every day against the best players in the world.
“It can be a lot to manage and to navigate, but I try every day to balance it all.”
Mancini’s health is being monitored.
“Once you go through what I did, I still have to get checked out every three months,” he said. “It’s not like you finish treatment, and you’re healed 100 percent, guaranteed.
“There’s still a chance, God forbid, that it could come back or something like that. I try not to think that way. I live my way like it’s never going to, and I don’t think it will, but it’s something that everybody has to deal with that’s gone through it.
“Sometimes when that three-month mark hits, and it’s time to get your scans and blood work and stuff, your anxiety gets raised a little bit. It can be tough. That’s kind of what you have to live with, though, after you go through it. You try not to think about it too much. Once you get those good scans, those good results every three months, you go back and live your life.”