BALTIMORE—Trey Mancini flew into Baltimore with the Houston Astros, rode the bus to Camden Yards for the first time, and is experiencing life as a visitor in the home ballpark of the Orioles for the first time.
“It’s wild. I truly haven’t been on this side before,” Mancini said in the Astros’ clubhouse before Thursday night’s game against the Orioles. “I didn’t really know where anything in the locker room was. It was a little strange being in such a familiar place but being unfamiliar with part of it.”
Mancini was drafted by the Orioles in 2013, joined them in September 2016 and played with them until August 1st, when he was traded to the Astros.
“It’s pretty crazy coming back,” he said. “I spent a lot of time here. Obviously loved my time here, stopped in on my way in and saw a couple of the trainers, and a couple of the guys were here. It’s always good to see old friends and old co-workers.”
Mancini has played 41 games with Houston, and is hitting .193 with eight home runs and 21 RBIs. He faced the Orioles in a three-game series late last month and was 1-for-10 with five strikeouts.
“I’ve been looking forward to it more than nervousness,” he said about his return. “I’m so familiar with Camden Yards and Baltimore. It’s just a little funny being back here as a visitor after being here for so long. You want to treat it as a road trip as much as you can. It was funny landing at BWI, coming up 295 into the city, a drive that I made a thousand times probably … You’ve got to remember you’re here as a visitor now.”
Mancini will be greeted warmly by the fans.
“I honestly haven’t thought about it too much,” he said. “The fans and I have such a good relationship. They’re always going to be a part of my baseball experience. I’m definitely looking forward to it more than anything else.”
When he came back after missing the 2020 season because of colon cancer and chemotherapy, Mancini was often the center of attention, and he used it to raise awareness of cancer.
“I had it a lot with everything I went through and the welcomes back at a couple of the away parks and, obviously, here after I came back from everything that happened in 2020,” Mancini said. “Definitely going to soak in the moment and appreciate it. When it’s over, it’s just another ballgame and you’ve got to play.”
The Orioles are 26-20 since trading Mancini, and their success doesn’t surprise him.
“I know the personnel over there. I know the guys that they have,” Mancini said. “The guys that have come up and, no, I’m not surprised with what they’ve been able to do. I was always and still am a huge fan of [manager Brandon Hyde]. He’s done an incredible job over there, and I’m really proud of what they’ve done.”
Mancini checks Oriole scores, but not every day.
“We play enough every day, and I’ve got enough going on,” he said. “I have a lot of friends over there. I want the best for them, but at the same time, I’ve got enough on my plate to worry about, but I’ve been more focused to what’s going on here.
“I knew that it would kind of be a lot coming here and, at the same time, we have games to play. I want to hit my stride and try to get a little more consistent at the plate so that’s been more than anything else, to tell you the truth.”
Mancini met his fiancée, Sara Perlman, here and had surgery and received treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
“My relationship with the city transcends baseball,” Mancini said. “It always will. Besides Sara, who was with me when I got diagnosed, the only people that I really got to tell in person I was diagnosed with cancer were my teammates, the guys over there.
“Sara was there with me when I got the news and Hyder and [general manager Mike] Elias were with me when I was waiting to see what the diagnosis was. Those are powerful moments and things that are way bigger than baseball and always will be.”
Mancini played on teams that lost more than 100 games in 2018, 2019 and 2021, and when the team was on the upswing, he was traded.
“It’s really nice to try to leave an impact on a place like I did here,” he said. “I know on the field we had our share of struggles during my time. There are a lot of good times throughout that, too, and I think that’s what you remember after you’re done playing, the relationships you form, the teammates you played with and the impact you leave on a city and some people. That’s something that’s always going to be special to me about this place.”
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB