Trey Mancini, for the first time in about a quarter-century, won’t have an Opening Day game to play.
Mancini, 28, wasn’t with the Orioles in Summer Camp and he wasn’t with the team when they made the trip to Boston for the first series of the year. He won’t be with the team all season, either.
Mancini left the team in Spring Training in early March to undergo a non-baseball medical procedure. On March 12, that was revealed to be colon cancer.
Just over four months after his procedure, however, Mancini is still in as good of spirits as he reasonably can be on MLB’s Opening Day.
“It’s the first time since I was about three years old that I’m not playing baseball during the year,” Mancini said Friday on a Zoom call with reporters. “It’s definitely a little weird. It’s tough not being there, I wish more than anything I could be out there with them, but I’ve definitely got bigger things to worry about right now.”
Mancini has just under two months left his chemotherapy treatments, meaning he will be finished right before the Orioles’ season ends in late September.
“I’ve got five treatments left, so I’m over halfway done,” Mancini said. “I’m scheduled to be done Sept. 21 I think is the last day. After my infusions, I’ll feel pretty sluggish and not great for a few days, then I’ll bounce back pretty quickly and have about nine or 10 days of feeling good before I go back. I’ve gotten really used to kind of the routine chemo has thrown at me.”
He reiterated his focus is on his health, and while he still wants the Orioles to perform well, this has put some perspective in his life on what’s important in the grand scheme of things.
With no sports in North America for the last several months, however, he needed something to take his mind off the treatments. He became a fan of Premier League soccer and now roots for Aston Villa. He even bought a shirt, he said, to make himself a true fan.
But now, baseball will be back on the television for Mancini, meaning he’s able to watch his team once again.
“I’m wanting us to win every game out there really badly,” he said. “It’s almost kind of like being a kid again and just watching games on TV. You want to get up and start swinging a bat, throwing a ball around because I haven’t been able to do that too much. It gives you the itch to go out and play or go to a batting cage and start swinging. It was really fun to watch.”
With Mancini immunocompromised due to his treatments, as well as the strict emphasis from the league about limiting exposure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Mancini hasn’t been able to see his teammates in person. For now, the television will do just fine.
But the Orioles’ best player from a season ago, even though he’s not in the lineup, has high hopes for what could be a wild year of baseball.
“It’s a 60-game sprint, you never know what can happen,” Mancini said. “I’ve got high hopes for the guys out there. With the expanded playoffs, baseball’s a crazy game, and I think they can really surprise some people this year.”
No matter what the Orioles do on the field, Mancini can sense that the end is near for his cancer treatments.
“I’ve started to get to the point where you see the light at the end of the tunnel a little bit,” he said. “You kinda get within two months of finishing, and especially now that baseball’s on TV, and I’ve been seeing it, and that’s all getting cranked up, I’ve definitely been thinking about being done with my chemo regimen and just starting the offseason and getting ready for next year.”
Once his treatments are over, and the major league season has concluded, Mancini is hopeful he’ll be able to rejoin the team for workouts and preparation for the 2021 season.
And a return to normalcy for Mancini sounds wonderful at the moment.
“I definitely have that inspiration right now, not that I didn’t before,” Mancini said. “But I think it’s heightened now that baseball’s coming back and I’m getting closer to the end, just getting back to my normal life, like how it was before up until March 6, sounds pretty darn good right now.”
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