Trey Mancini didn't win the 2021 MLB Home Run Derby, but the Orioles slugger put on both a remarkable and inspiring performance on Monday before falling to Mets first baseman Pete Alonso in the final round.
Mancini, who returned to baseball this spring after missing the entire 2020 season while undergoing treatment for colon cancer, said it was "incredible" to participate in the Home Run Derby after everything he's been through over the past several months.
"It was incredible," Mancini told reporters. "Obviously everybody knows the story by now, but the last year and a half was something you have nightmares about. And to be here a year later and make it to the finals was incredible."
The 29-year-old entered the competition with the lowest odds of winning. But in the first round, Mancini's 24 homers were just good enough to hold off Matt Olson by one to move on. Then in the second round, Mancini edged out Colorado's Trevor Story, earning a date in the final round with Alonso, the reigning Derby champion.
As the lower seed, Mancini went first in the final round and applied significant pressure on the Mets slugger. Mancini hit 22 homers in the final round -- a round that was one minute shorter than the first two ones. Yet Alonso, who called himself the "best power hitter on the planet" once the event ended, surpassed Mancini with relative ease to win his second consecutive Home Run Derby.
As a natural competition, Mancini was "disappointed" he wasn't able to win but also said he has no reason to be upset.
"I was trying to win. If I'm in the competition, I'm in it to win it. So yeah, I'm disappointed," Mancini said. "I would have rather won, but at the same time, how can you be upset? You know, it was just the most incredible experience. ... Put up a good showing and unfortunately it wasn't enough, but there's not much more to say about Pete. He's a beast out there."
For Mancini, the night was also extra special because of who he had pitching to him. That would be one of his former coaches at Notre Dame, Chuck Ristano.
"When I went out there and saw Coach Ristano out there, it was surreal," Mancini said. "He was the pitching coach at Notre Dame what I was there and we did a Big East Home Run Derby together and won that. And at the time I promised him if I was ever in the Major League Home Run Derby, he would throw to me. It was surreal to see that become a reality from my vantage point."
After putting on an incredible show in the Derby on Monday, Mancini wants his performance to show cancer survivors that there is "life after it."
"I was diagnosed over a year ago, but you know, when that's the case and you go through chemotherapy, it's something that's still on your mind and you still have to worry about," Mancini said. "But I think it can set an example that you have to go back to your normal life, even though you might have this thing hanging over you sometimes.
"That's the message that I really wanted to get across is I'm still going through a battle and there's so many people going through battles still," he continued. "Like I said, by all accounts, you can go back to how you were before. I feel great about my health and where I am and what the future holds but you definitely don't want to take every day for granted, and I've learned that."