Orioles

Guerrero Jr.'s advice to Trey Mancini for 2021 Home Run Derby

Orioles

Three days away from the 2021 MLB Home Run Derby and Baltimore Orioles slugger Trey Mancini hasn't gotten too much advice as of yet. 

One piece of advice he has received came this past week from Toronto Blue Jays first baseman and 2019 derby runner-up Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

"He said other than just enjoying it, that's the most important thing no matter what happens, you gotta soak it all in and it's such a cool experience," Mancini told Buster Only on ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" podcast.

Guerrero Jr. narrowly lost out on the 2019 derby crown to New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso, but his impressive 91 homers overall didn't come without any strategy. 

"He said it can get pretty tiring," Mancini said. "So I don't know if that means taking a little bit less of an effort level out of the swings or things like that. Obviously, you still want to hit it hard and far because that's why people are watching, but trying to pace yourself. Maybe taking a break at the right time, but it's something I haven't thought about too much yet."

Mancini will have to formulate a plan on how exactly he plans to rest through the rigorous power-hitting rounds the derby demands, but he'll also have to get some practice in first. While Mancini will try to get acclimated to the pace with one of his Orioles batting coaches, he made sure to uphold an old promise to the person who'll actually be tossing the baseballs on Monday.

 

That promise was to Notre Dame assistant coach Chuck Ristano, whose first year arriving in South Bend was the same as Mancini's in 2011. Mancini said Ristano fought back tears over the phone when their half-joking dream was fully realized over the phone last week, and they'll get to practice together for the first time on derby day Monday. 

Ristano could also be a good luck charm for Mancini after he threw for Mancini's 2012 Big East home run derby triumph. Still, while Ristano was justly emotional for his former player getting that derby invitation, Mancini put in perspective just how elated he was. 

"It's really special. I was a little surprised at first when I got the invite, but it was something that I no doubt wanted to do," Mancini said. "It's an event I watched every year growing up...For the bigger picture, I wanted to do it to inspire people that, you know, even a year after getting diagnosed with cancer and getting treatment you can go on to live a normal life and do great things." 

Throughout the season, Mancini has been moved by the support of fans throughout the league. During the O's first couple road trips Yankees and Red Sox fans traded their usual insults for compliments, to last week when one Angels fan who started colon cancer treatments on Opening Day held a sign saying Mancini was his inspiration. The derby presents the sport's biggest stage for Mancini to complete his return.

The fan support means the world to Mancini, he said, and he's excited to get to turn that support into a good performance (as well as getting to see how well fellow participant Shohei Ohtani will do). 

At the end of the day, though, Mancini is also looking to reverse the fortunes that the Home Run Derby has had on power hitters in past seasons.

"I haven't thought about it too much just because we have a few games left before the break, and I've been more concerned about that just because my swing hasn't felt amazing the last few weeks in the games," Mancini said. "If the thing's true, some people think the Home Run Derby can mess up your swing, right now I'm hoping it's the opposite. My swing doesn't feel great so I'm hoping the derby can get me locked in and ready for the second half here."