BALTIMORE—Thursday will be a special day for Orioles fans. They’ll get to thank Trey Mancini for his time in Baltimore when he returns with the Houston Astros.
Mancini was traded from the Orioles to the Astros on August 1st while the team was in Arlington, Texas to play the Rangers, and even though the Orioles were in Houston and saw Mancini late last month, this weekend will be the emotional homecoming.
It was an open secret that Mancini was going to be traded, and when he hit an inside-the-park home run in his last at-bat at Camden Yards on July 28th, it put an exclamation point on his wonderful Orioles career.
“I hope the fans give him a great ovation,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I’m sure they will. It’s going to be a lot of hugs from our side to him.”
The Astros have already clinched the American League West, and Hyde was happy about that, too.
“Definitely going to be in the playoffs, and that will be fun to watch,” Hyde said. “It’s going to be fun to see a friend back in the building. Everybody’s going to be excited here to say hello to him.”
The Orioles still have the sign signifying Mancini’s fight against colon cancer in 2020 in their dugout.
“I think Trey had an enormous impact on a ton of people here and just everything that he went through from being a cancer survivor to how he came back from it, his attitude, his day-to-day attitude, the smile on his face, the mature manner that he has, how great he is to people,” Hyde said.
“If you watch him or just be around him, watch him on TV, you’ll understand how special a person he is. Obviously, the fan base here loves him and continues to love him and his teammates think so highly of him as well. We’re proud to have that sign still up. It means a lot.”
When he was traded, Mancini was hitting .268 with a .751 OPS, 10 home runs and 41 RBIs. With Houston, Mancini’s hitting .198 with a .708 OPS, eight home runs and 21 RBIs.
Those numbers don’t matter to Anthony Santander, who joined the Orioles as a Rule 5 draft pick during Mancini’s rookie season in 2017.
“He taught me when I got here,” Santander said. “Being a professional, being early, hard worker, also being a teammate. That was his biggest thing, being a good teammate.
“He’s a really good friend. When I see him, I hug him. I love him.”
Santander admired how Mancini fought cancer without compliant.
“Actually, it touched my heart. I always texted him, wishing him: ‘Stay strong. Trust in God. You’re going to be out of this. Thank God, he passed through that and he was able to go back to what he loves. That’s amazing.”
Santander has watched highlights of Mancini’s games with Houston.
“I saw his first homer as an Astro,” he said. “I got excited. I was happy for him. Hopefully, they can make it to the World Series. He’s coming tomorrow.”
Santander is also expecting a warm welcome for Mancini.
“Even if the stadium isn’t packed tomorrow, it’s going to be loud,” he said. “The fans love him for all he’s been through. Early in his career in this organization, he did a really good job, and the fans are going to love it. We’re going to love it. We’re going to love to see him back in this stadium.”
Santander expected a trade for his friend and, as the on-deck batter, he had a great view of his trip around the bases.
“I got excited and happy because I knew it was his last AB,” Santander said. “Because there was a possibility that he couldn’t stay, that he could go on to another team, but we don’t know.
“Wow, if this was his last AB, I want him to hit a homer and right now … It wasn’t a regular homer. It was more fun [than] a regular homer. It was amazing. It was a special day, and we all enjoyed it.”
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB