The workouts and positive feelings remain a staple of Trey Mancini’s offseason routine. No doubts in his mind whether he’ll be ready for spring training. The full expectation of playing on opening day.
The building confidence that he’s beaten Stage 3 colon cancer and his body can handle the rigors of his conditioning program and preparation for the regular season.
The Orioles made Mancini available this morning on a Zoom conference call with the media. Here’s a sampling, beginning with his reaction to news that proceeds of the #F16HT T-shirt sales, created in support his fight against colon cancer, have totaled more than $80,000 to benefit the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.
Nearly 5,000 shirts were sold, according to the Orioles. The sales have spanned 45 states, D.C. and Canada. All net proceeds will benefit the Colorectal Cancer Alliance Patient and Family Support Services.
Mancini said the sales are “incredible” and “surpassed my expectations and I think the expectations of a lot of others.”
“It’s just another testament to everybody in Baltimore and their support and rallying around me during this really tough time,” he said. “It just means the world to me. And I’ve gotten to know a lot of really amazing people that work with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance and people who have had colon cancer, as well. They all helped me tremendously throughout my process. So being able to give back to them is really important to me and something that I’m going to continue to do in the future.
“Health-wise, I’m feeling great. I feel totally like myself and working out, hitting and just getting ready for spring training now.”
Mancini on his new normal and perspective: “My perspective has changed a whole lot, especially baseball-wise. Obviously, my ultimate goal has always been to come back and be back to myself on the baseball field, but that really played second fiddle to just wanting to be healthy. I’ve always appreciated being healthy, but never like I have this year. And having your health and feeling good, it’s so important in life. I don’t want to say that I took it for granted before, but I definitely have a newfound appreciation for it.
“In the future, obviously every three months, I go get checked up and have appointments with my oncologist. We’re going to stay on top of it from here on out and that’s my new normal. That withstanding, I’m also very excited to get back to a normal life before all of this happened, too.”
On whether he’d still be immunocompromised because of the pandemic: “Having had cancer definitely, I think, puts me in that category for sure. There are a few major league players like Carlos Carrasco, Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester, I know they played this year, but they also had to be even more careful than some other players, I feel like. So even if you’re recovered from your cancer, you still want to be careful.
“I think probably around now my blood counts have gone back up, so hopefully I’m not more susceptible to contracting it. Hopefully, that’s all built back up. But it is something that you really want to be careful with because you don’t know for sure exactly how you’re going to react to it.”
On his workouts prior to spring training: “I work out five times a week doing different stuff, and I’m hitting those days, too. So right now, I’m still just doing tee work. It’s something you want to slowly progress into. I had a pretty good amount of time off, so you really want to ease into it, retrain your muscles. I have the inkling sometimes to go in there and take swings at 100 percent right at the beginning and you’ve got to remember you’re not totally commissioned for that. But I’ve already built up a pretty good amount and I’m doing some short overhand tossing pretty soon, so by the time especially December rolls around in a few weeks, I’ll probably even be ahead of where I normally am in the offseason.”
On his mindset knowing the support for him: “You’re going to have good days and bad days. That’s what everybody that I talked to before I started chemotherapy and even before my surgery ... they said you’re going to have some really good days, really bad days. Don’t get too high on the good days and don’t let the bad days really drag you down and make your outlook a lot worse. You’ve got to make it through the next day, and I did that. And honestly it flew by.
“I thought it was going to be the longest six months imaginable, but luckily I had the greatest support system in the world. Sara (Perlman) took care of me literally every day and just made my life so much easier, so I’m forever grateful to her for that. It was really tough, but luckily I was surrounded by some great people that made it better.”
On his reaction when the Orioles sent framed team photo with personal messages: “It was amazing, especially because I wasn’t allowed around the stadium for good reason obviously this year, so it was really tough to be away from the guys for that long. I had never gone through a season where I wasn’t playing baseball and a part of a team and having that camaraderie every day with all the guys, so I really missed that. So to get that picture and see what they did for me throughout the year and then ending on signing that team picture for me is something that I’m so grateful for and will always cherish.”
On his next steps and hurdles: “Like I said, I get checked up every three months for this first year and then I believe it goes to six months for the next few years after that. It’s just like bloodwork and getting scans, just checking in, making sure everything looks good, because the biggest worry obviously is a recurrence, so you pray that never happens. I feel really good about things. I’ve had a lot of pretty extensive blood tests and scans and everything looks great. There was no trace of tumor DNA or cancer in my bloodstream, which is great. But it’s still something that you have to monitor. At the same time, that’s something that’s pretty largely out of my control. I’m doing everything I can physically to be ready to play and to still have a long career and I’m feeling really good about that.
“Another thing you worry about before chemotherapy are the side effects of chemotherapy and luckily I’m feeling really good. Neuropathy can be a long-term side effect of it sometimes, but luckily I am totally good in that regard. My coordination is just as good as it was and everything feels fantastic. I feel strong and like myself.”
On continuing the advocacy of early screening and awareness: “Of course. I’m just getting started with that. Something that is very important to me. I’ve got a few ideas of what to do. My older sister and Sara and a few other people are really helping me plan a few events to benefit the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, to help with early screening, because people are getting it at a much younger age now, and we’re not exactly sure why, but there is a reason, so we want to find that out. And obviously colonoscopies can be expensive, especially if you’re a younger person, it’s probably not going to be covered by your insurance, so maybe helping some people that can’t afford it that are in a high-risk population, that’s something I’m really interested in doing is maybe helping them pay for their colonoscopies, too.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Go get screened, go get a colonoscopy,’ but some people just can’t afford to do it. I really want to try to help some people out monetarily with getting their screenings done.”
On whether he asks why it happened to him: “Sometimes I’ll kind of wonder what it was that caused it. Obviously my dad had it, but he was close to 60 years old when he had it. I didn’t test positive for any genetic disorders that were inherited from him. There are so many things that it could have possibly been, so I got to a point where I was thinking there’s no use in really guessing what it could have been. It could have been multiple things. Sometimes you’re just unlucky in that regard and I didn’t try to ask why too much. I just wanted to get through it and attack it and get back to being myself.”
On where he’ll play in 2021: “We haven’t really talked about that too much, but obviously I’ve been through a lot this year, so that was the last thing on our minds. But now that we’ve turned that corner it’s something that everybody is thinking about. I said this my rookie year and I say it now, wherever they want me to play, whatever they want me to do, I’ll do it. I never take that for granted, getting to play major league baseball every day. It’s been my dream my whole life. So if they want me in the outfield, if they want me at first, I’ll be there. DH, I’ll be there. If they want to try me out at second base, I’ll do it. I don’t recommend doing that, but literally whatever they want. I’m thankful to go out there and perform for the team, and I know I’ll do that.”
On what he saw from younger players who came up in 2020: “I watched a lot. I tried to watch basically every game and I did for the most part. Whenever I was home, I had the TV on MASN, watching the game. It was so exciting, and I know a lot of those guys obviously who got called up this year and had heard about them the last few years and they were all as advertised. They weren’t scared, timid. They went up there and seized their opportunities and that’s what you’ve got to do at that level. And I love all their mindsets and I think that will go a long way. That group coming up is really good with that. They go out there, they’re not scared.
“The pitchers all attack the zone. (Ryan) Mountcastle, he did such a good job of being aggressive, but at the same time taking his walks. Did a great job in the outfield. I’m proud of all those guys for how well they did this year and performed, because it is really a strange year for everybody and getting call-up in a year like that probably isn’t too easy, especially not being able to have your family there for your debut and stuff, but they all handled it so well.”
On his playing goals: “Right now, there’s no reason for me to believe that, if spring training started tomorrow, I wouldn’t be ready to go, because I really would. I’ve recovered well and I’ve been working really hard since I finished chemo, just kind of building myself back up, and at this point, I feel really strong and capable of playing Major League Baseball. I’ll be ready for spring training. I really know that. So, yeah, that’s obviously a goal, and something that I want to continue to work toward is obviously being ready for opening day, and fingers crossed I am, because it would be something out of my control that would cause me to not be out there. From a physical standpoint and everything like that, I’m good to go.”
On whether he has any limitations: “No, I’m doing everything like I always have done every year and then some. So physically, I’m to the point now where I’m pushing myself, my workouts are really tough. I don’t have any limitations from a physical standpoint from the treatment or surgery or anything like that. I’m good.
“When I get there in February, I really think everybody will look at me and think nothing happened if they didn’t know what happened. It’s something I’ve been inspired ever since I finished chemo, that was a huge milestone for me, and then all my attention turned back to baseball. So I’m pretty confident in the work I’ve been putting in and what I’ve been doing. I’m ready to go and have another good year next year.”