SEATTLE - It appears the Orioles dodged a bullet yesterday when their best player, Trey Mancini, got hit by a pitch in the left elbow. But while there were no broken bones, there was a contusion and he should return to the lineup soon.
While Mancini is likely going to fall short of being voted an All-Star starter, it appears he has a good chance to wind up on the American League team for the first time next month. The preliminary voting for the game ends tomorrow at 4 p.m. Eastern time. At that time, the top nine outfielders in each league advance to the next phase of the voting. Mancini was 17th in the most recently released results.
In the last few weeks, the entire Orioles organization has gotten behind a movement to “Vote Trey.” The club has produced videos and used social media to support Mancini and his teammates have gone above and beyond what you might normally expect to see. The “Vote Trey” movement seems to be everywhere you look. It gained momentum fast and never slowed down.
Manager Brandon Hyde practically gushes when he talks about Mancini, the person and player.
“I think it speaks to how these guys feel about him,” he said. “He’s obviously a really special guy and class act and the entire team loves him. He’s an All-Star type player on our club. It was awesome to see our guys support him and he deserves all that. Because he is a class guy that is having a great first half. We’re pulling for him.”
Mancini certainly has the credentials to be an All-Star. He’s hit .304/.359/.558 with 18 doubles, two triples, 16 homers, 35 RBIs and an OPS of .917. Among the AL leaders, he ranks third in total bases, fifth in slugging, tied for fifth in extra-base hits, seventh in average, tied for seventh in hits and doubles, tied for eighth in runs, 10th in OPS and tied for 13th in home runs.
The Orioles clubhouse was led by pitchers Richard Bleier and Mychal Givens in the planning of what they could do to support Mancini. The pitchers met with Orioles non-playing staff and brainstormed how they could get the word out to vote for their teammate.
“Our PR staff came to us and we talked about some ideas,” said Bleier. “They had a lot of good ideas and we contributed a few to promote Trey in a positive way.”
Said Givens: “He’s our teammate and good friend. Me and Bleier felt like he deserves to be an All-Star. We wanted to get behind this and give him great support. We’re all brothers in here and spend more time here sometimes with these guys then we do with our own families.”
The Orioles knew players in bigger markets with more name recognition and a history of playing in the All-Star Game would very likely get more votes. But they were out to back one of their own. This was personal and meant a lot to everyone.
“Trey is, in my opinion, the face of this team,” said Bleier. “He’s earned that with what he’s done here the last few years. He’s very deserving of everything we’ve been doing. His play on the field, offensively and defensively, speaks for itself.
“He plays the game hard, but isn’t the flashiest guy on a big-market team and that kind of goes against him in what is essentially a popularity contest. But someone this deserving, it’s only right we help him get there. He’s a great teammate too.”
Hyde asked for the club to make T-shirts to back Mancini and players are wearing them often. Bleier, Givens and Evan Phillips went around the warehouse encouraging staff to vote Trey. They even called season plan members to get them to vote. Anthony Santander wore his Mancini T-shirt during an MLB Network interview. A voicemail from Hyde went to Birdland Membership holders.
Chris Davis and Keon Broxton drove around Camden Yards in a golf cart before a recent game with a bullhorn encouraging fans to vote. They crashed Mancini’s autograph signing appearance to promote that Mancini is on the cover of the latest Orioles Magazine. Other players appeared in videos and did whatever they could, including Paul Fry, Shawn Armstrong, Richie Martin, Rio Ruiz, Dan Straily, Stevie Wilkerson, DJ Stewart, Dylan Bundy and John Means.
An entire clubhouse supported Mancini in a very, very big way.
“The numbers speak for themselves, but I don’t think a lot of people understand how tough it is to continue to put up those types of numbers when you are constantly fighting to win games,” said Davis. “There is something that needs to be said for that. Look at how many times he’s started a big inning for us or come through with a clutch hit.
“Everyone in here respects Trey and cares about him, not only as a player and teammate, but as a person. He’s a great guy and he does things the right way and goes about his work the right way. We were happy to get behind him and do anything we could to encourage people to vote for him.”
All of this has been a bit overwhelming to Mancini, a player that never seeks the spotlight and doesn’t like it when anyone makes a fuss about him. But this time, and for this player, his teammates and the Orioles staff felt they needed to make that fuss and to be heard.
Mancini has clearly been touched by all of this.
“It means a lot,” he said. “When I see teammates wearing shirts or videos they are making on social media, it’s an honor. I really appreciate all the support from everybody. I think everyone knows I’m not big on getting attention and not a self-promoter. But I’m extremely appreciative of all this.
“Teammates are supporting me big time. And there are some other guys worthy of this honor on our team that are not being talked about too much, but, you know, it has been a pretty cool experience.”