Trey Mancini is playing defense on days that he’s the designated hitter or on the bench.
A mitt isn’t needed. Just fingers that can work his phone.
Mancini said he’s disabled the Twitter and Instagram apps to better shield himself from the trade rumors as the Aug. 2 deadline approaches. To resist any temptations. Give him some peace.
The Mets have serious interest in Mancini, which would reunite him with former manager Buck Showalter, and the industry buzz grew much louder last night regarding the possibility of a deal.
“I’m trying to do a much better job of not following that,” said Mancini, who didn't appear in last night's 5-1 win over the Rays. “It’s so much noise and so much uncertainty and speculation that it doesn’t really benefit you as a player. There are some good aspects of social media, but in my opinion it can be a pretty tough place, too, so I just try to drown out the noise.
“I haven’t really been looking, but I do hear what some people say. I’ve heard (the Mets), but it’s not something I’m thinking about too much until it would actually happen. I’m an Oriole as far as I’m concerned, and nothing I heard has said differently. But it’s definitely a little bit strange not exactly knowing what’s going to happen.”
Trade banter finds Mancini pretty much every season except in 2020, when he didn’t play following his surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his colon and a summer spent undergoing chemotherapy treatments. But it’s legitimate now given his contract situation and the lack of any negotiations on a long-term extension.
“I know on paper we have the mutual option, but chances are I’m a free agent after the season, so obviously that comes with a lot more trade talk, and it’s definitely a lot more real than it has been in past years,” said Mancini, who was out of the lineup while hitless in his last 22 at-bats, lowering his slash line to .268/.345/.404 in 86 games.
“I think in past years I always knew in my gut that I’d still be here. This year I have no idea. You know, it’s crazy this could be my last series here as an Oriole, so amidst this slump, that’s something else I’m trying to keep in mind is enjoying the series, because I don’t want to look back and …
“Say I do get dealt. I don’t want to look back and regret how I handled the last few days. My career here and my time here is so much bigger than an 0-for-22 slump. I’m also trying to keep that in mind. So, it’s definitely a lot of emotions. I think I’m handling it all pretty good, better than I have in the past. My main goal right now is to put good at-bats together again because I haven’t been doing that since last Friday.
“It’s not like a classic, unlucky slump. It’s been some pretty tough sledding. Whenever you’re going well, like in May, I felt like I was going to get a hit every time up at the plate, and right now it’s unfortunately been pretty tough, and I’m just trying to get back to that feeling. And I know I will. I want to try to help the team win, I want to contribute for these guys. That’s basically the bottom line.”
Mancini won’t blame his struggles at the plate on the uncertainty regarding his remaining time with the Orioles, the team that drafted him in the eighth round in 2013 out of the University of Notre Dame and called him up three years later.
The team he’d rather not leave.
“It’s not anything that I’m thinking about remotely when I’m up at the plate,” he said. “Obviously, at times it comes up in your head. It is a little strange not knowing what’s going to happen or where you might be in 10 days, but at the same time, I’m at peace either way. It’s really not anything that’s contributing to this stretch. It’s not anything I’m bringing into the games or at-bats with me.
“I want to get a hit so bad, I really do. That’s the only thing. The trade’s not on my mind. I just want to get a ball through the freakin’ four hole if that’s what it takes, a cheap infield hit. I’ll take whatever I can get right now. I’m not thinking about the trade deadline. I want to get back on the board, I want a hit.”
Mancini knew the length of his dry spell. He already did his own research, which often is left to the media.
“It’s been really tough, just like a classic slump, something I’m just trying to get through,” he said. “I felt a lot better (Sunday) then I did the previous four games or so, but baseball’s just a funny game. We go to Tampa, I start the series 3-for-3 and I’m feeling pretty good, and all of a sudden I’m 0-for-what, 22 since then? Something like that.”
Exactly like that.
“Yeah,” he said, “I tried to do it in my head yesterday.”
“I’ve had a stretch like this before, in 2019, right around the same time, funny enough,” he said. “I think it’s just a coincidence more than anything. There’s a lot of frustration, obviously, that goes into it. I want to be performing well for the team, but luckily a lot of the guys around me have been helping me out and picking up some of the slack. But obviously, I want to get to how I was hitting the ball, by and large, before this.
“Just another frustrating stretch, but something I know I’ll get through. But it’s tough. It’s a lot of at-bats to not get a hit. Just work on getting through it. It’s not fun.”
There are no physical issues with Mancini. His battered hands aren’t impacting his swing. But he’s struck out nine times in 20 at-bats over his last five starts.
“I really wanted to be in there (Sunday),” he said. “I thought that was the day. Like I said, felt a little better, but I think Hyder (Brandon Hyde) just wanted to give me a day (yesterday) and kind of break it up a little bit. Sometimes, having a day off can naturally reset you, and hopefully that’s the case. Just going to keep grinding through it.
“I think the first few games I was getting really frustrated and kind of falling into old habits, and that doesn’t work at all, so I’m trying to keep doing what I wanted to do this year, which is staying more positive about it and seeking the advice of others that can help me, and leaning on my teammates. Everybody goes through things like that, but that doesn’t make it any easier when you’re going through it, when you’re struggling, and when the team needs you. So, I very much plan on getting through it and picking back up and getting back to the hitter I am.”