ARLINGTON, Texas - The Orioles are urging fans to cast votes for Trey Mancini and get him into next month’s All-Star Game in Cleveland. Ideas on how to promote him are percolating and he’s the logical team representative based on his impressive first-half statistics and the limited alternatives on a team that began last night tied with the Royals for the worst record in baseball.
Mancini hit his 13th home run in the top of the first inning, a sore left foot still able to carry him around the bases in a trot. He also singled in his next two at-bats and enters tonight’s series opener in Houston batting .306/.359/.556.
A starting spot might not be in the offering for Mancini based on the competition, but he seems like a safe bet to at least be included among the reserves.
Is Mancini the only Oriole worthy of the honor?
John Means also endorses Mancini and downplays his chances to be included on the American League’s pitching staff. He blocks out any thoughts of it until a reporter presses him on the subject.
He smiles, which comes easily to him. And the modesty pours out as if running through a spigot.
“I honestly don’t think about it too much,” he said. “I just try to go out there every five or six days and try to pitch my best and try to get some wins.
“Trey deserves it. He’s everything an All-Star is categorized as, so I’m campaigning for Trey, too.”
Manager Brandon Hyde wore the orange T-shirt during pregame with Mancini’s name plastered across the chest. Teammates found the shirts draped on chairs at their lockers during the last homestand and happily changed into them.
Votes aren’t cast for pitchers, but bugs can be planted in ears of the people doing the choosing.
“It would obviously be fun,” Means said, playing along with the repetitive line of questioning. “It would be awesome. I’ve never actually been a minor league All-Star, so yeah, it would be awesome. But I’m just trying to keep doing what I’m doing.”
A 2.67 ERA in 60 2/3 innings doesn’t allow Means to qualify among the league leaders, but he’s getting closer. The added attention couldn’t hurt.
He’s already created a nice buzz with his surprise inclusion on the roster, move to the rotation, increased velocity and plus changeup and the results that should thrust him into the All-Star conversation.
Again, Means breaks into a smile.
“Honestly, I don’t look at anything,” he said. “I just try to pitch as best I can and let it take care of itself.”
Meanwhile, the Orioles will make another roster move prior to tonight’s game with Dwight Smith Jr. headed to the injured list. Concussion protocol, a banged-up shoulder. There’s no chance that he stays on the active roster because the Orioles already are short-handed.
Santander hit his fifth home run last night and is batting .263 with a .737 OPS. Mullins had a double and two RBIs last night but is batting .214 with a .620 OPS. He’d make more sense if the emphasis is on defense.
Rickard makes more sense if the emphasis is keeping prospects in the minors to enhance their development.
Four players left games with injuries in the past two nights and Mancini is fighting through the pain in his left foot.
“We’re always ready on the bench and you know something like that can happen,” Mancini said. “You can go 30 games with nobody really getting hurt too bad and you can have a week like this with four or five guys have to come out of a game and we might have to have a pitcher go out to the field.
“That happens. We’re always ready. Everybody on the bench is ready to go and came in and did their jobs.”
However many on the bench actually are able to play.
“I think we’re just trying to lift each other up,” said David Hess. “We’re close to the halfway point, so guys are always trying to do things. Really, we’re just trying to give guys a breather where we can and pick them up wherever we can. Just really coming together and trying to push each other forward.”