NEW YORK—Trey Mancini’s story is well known. He missed the 2020 season because of colon cancer surgery and chemotherapy. In his comeback year he has 19 home runs and came in second place in the Home Run Derby the night before the All-Star Game in Denver last month.
On Monday, he spoke about his season.
Question: How do you assess your year?
Mancini: “I’d kind of mark it as an incomplete right now. It’s been a year unlike any other and just crazy. Up to this point, I’ve had two really, really good months and then two not-so-good months. It’s been a little inconsistent. I want to lessen the roller coaster, I might say performance, and get a little more consistent, but it’s better than having four not great months.
“At the same time, it’s hard for that not to happen, especially after the year that I went through, and things like that. It’s a lot of emotions being back and playing every day. It’s been amazing. I’ve dealt with it pretty decently I’d say. I want to do a better job moving forward. Being a little more consistent is my main goal.”
Q: How has your life changed from 2019 until today?
A: “I guess I have more of a clubhouse presence, not that I didn’t before. My role has definitely shifted. I feel like guys, if they have a question, they come to me. I’m the longest tenured guy here now, other than [Chris Davis] obviously. It happened pretty quickly. I love having that role. I’d say the main difference after what I went through last year, it can get on your mind sometimes.
“There are certain times throughout the year, there’ll be like a week or two where if I’m waiting on my test results to come back, something like that, it can be a little antsy. It’s kind of a balancing act, too, letting baseball be baseball and letting everything else be everything else. I’m still trying to manage the two of those things.”
Q: There must be incredible demands on your time. How do you balance them?
A: “There are. It’s been a lot this year. I’m not going to lie, but I knew that going in. I know my story was going to attract a lot of attention. The support and outreach I’ve gotten has just been so cool. I’m proud that I’ve impacted a lot of people’s lives. It’s kind of calmed down a little since the [Home Run] Derby ended. That was kind of the peak, I’d say. It was kind of like going up and then the Derby was really like the peak.
“It was a lot, but at the same time, it was the most incredible day I could have imagined and then things have calmed down a little bit, and I feel like I’m getting back to baseball since then, so that’s been pretty nice.”
Q: Do people come up to you often and share their stories about dealing with cancer?
A: “They do, and so many have been impacted by cancer and specifically colon cancer. So many people have reached out and I love talking to other survivors, people who have gone through it. That’s what helped me when I was going through chemotherapy, was talking to people who had been through it before and knowing that they had made it through and were OK, made going through that a lot easier.
“Any time somebody tells me that they’re going through that, I always want to talk to them to help them like others helped me when I was going through it, too. It’s really important when you’re going through chemotherapy and things like it. I wish I could get back to every single person who has reached out online. It’s hard whenever I’m having to perform at the highest level every single day. I’m still learning how to balance all that, but I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job, especially lately.”
Q: Were you relieved at 4:05 p.m. last Friday when you found out you weren’t traded?
A: “I was, but at the same time, like I told you guys before, I wasn’t expecting anything to happen for a lot of reasons. It’s just a very special situation that I’m in. I know in any other years, if I didn’t get sick last year, it could have definitely happened, I think more likely, but I had a feeling I was going to stay, and I was happy to.
“I’ve only been with the Orioles [throughout] my whole career. I really like this group of guys here, so I really want to continue to lead them and show them how to be professionals year-in and year-out.”
Q: Except for a few weeks in 2016, the team has had a losing record since you’ve been here. Does the losing wear on you?
A: “It does a little. I want to win. I’m a very competitive person. I’m guessing since my debut, I don’t know what our record is in games that I’ve played in. I know it’s not great [201-363 through Monday].
“That can wear on you. It’s tough, but I’m also very happy to be where I am every day. I think about being a kid all the time playing in the majors, and I’m doing it every day. I’d love to win, but at the same time, I’m not somebody who prefers to totally take the easy way out or wants to be in a different situation because I love the situation I’m in. I’d like to win. I’d like for us … I’ve been very encouraged by and large how we’re playing in the second half, and I’m hoping we can continue to do that.”
Notes: Cedric Mullins has been named the Orioles’ winner of the Heart and Hustle award, which is voted on by the Major League Players Alumni Association. According to the MLPAA, the award “honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game.” … Outfielder Yusniel Diaz has been transferred from Triple-A Norfolk to Double-A Bowie on an informal rehab assignment for his turf toe. … Mancini has a day off for a mental break, manager Brandon Hyde said before Tuesday night’s game. … Reliever Tyler Wells, on the 10-day injured list because of tendinitis in his right wrist, could be activated on Wednesday or Friday, following Thursday’s offday, Hyde said.