BOSTON - An Orioles lineup without Chris Davis last night provided another opportunity for Trey Mancini to play first base. However, he could go back to the outfield this afternoon with the Red Sox starting right-hander Rick Porcello.
Mancini hasn’t touched left field this season and Hyde continues to dole out starts to Dwight Smith Jr., who’s homered in back-to-back games. A decision must be made whether to give Mancini the Green Monster today or spacious right.
“I’ve heard it’s a lot of ground to cover and it’s an interesting right field just because you’ve got Pesky’s Pole and it jets out really, really quickly from there,” Mancini said yesterday from the refurbished visitors’ clubhouse. “It’s definitely a lot of ground to cover out there and definitely a challenge, as it is in left with the Monster. That’s all I really heard about it.”
Mancini made only two starts in right field headed into the season, none in 2018. He’s played right in nine games this year with eight starts.
“I feel pretty good about how I’ve done out there,” he said. “I’d say the biggest challenge so far has been balls that I’ve had to come in on. I’m still getting used to a few reads and I haven’t gotten great jumps. Like the diving play (Thursday) didn’t need to be a diving play. I got a pretty bad read, luckily made up for it and caught the ball. But sometimes I’m just waiting a little too long to react to those, but besides those I feel really comfortable out there.”
Moving Mancini to right had been discussed in previous years, but was put on hold until this season. He hasn’t been burdened with a lot of adjustments at Camden Yards.
“Maybe a little less ground to cover, which is probably good in my case,” he said. “Obviously, you have that wall behind you, too, so just playing the ball off that. The ball usually jets left when it hits off that fence out there and I know that, so I feel pretty comfortable with that, too.
“It’s not quite like playing left here with the Monster, not as big of a wall and it bounces out differently, but it’s a little similar, I guess you could say.”
Mancini should be flattered that the Orioles keep trusting him to handle new positions.
“It definitely feels good, especially after coming up through the minor leagues being labeled as a first baseman,” he said. “It feels pretty cool to be up here and be able to play the outfield and other positions. After a lot of people think that you can’t really do more than first base, it’s always pretty cool to go out there and try to do your best.”
Mancini has been on an offensive tear and he usually feasts on Fenway Park pitching. He struck out last night in his first two at-bats against Eduardo Rodriguez before concluding his night with a double and walk. He’s 25-for-69 (.362) in 18 career games in Boston.
Among Orioles with 75 or more plate appearances at Fenway Park, Mancini’s average ranks fourth in club history behind Don Baylor (.381), David Segui (.368) and B.J. Surhoff (.367).
“I don’t know if it’s coincidence or what, especially whenever you’re kind of trying to go center or right field here, you stay within yourself because it’s a big field,” Mancini said.
“You’re not really thinking about hitting homers or trying to drive the ball too much. You’re just trying to stay simple and make good contact and I think I do that here just with how spacious it is maybe in your mind simplifies things a little bit because you’re not thinking about hitting the ball out of the park too much.”
The Orioles are 1-7 when their opponent scores first. The late rallies are nice, but they need faster starts.
“Stay aggressive early and try to get ahead out of the gate,” Smith said. “That’s the big thing that I feel like we’ve been coming back late and early in the game we’ve been kind of stagnant at times and things not coming together early, so I would say just come out to a hot start.”
Smith had three career hits against left-handed pitching before the season, but he’s 8-for-20 as an Oriole.