TORONTO - Two Orioles arrived in Toronto and found out today they’ve been honored by the American League. Trey Mancini has been named the AL Player of the Week and Austin Hays was recognized for making the AL’s Play of the Week, which was his home-run robbing catch last Thursday against Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Mancini claimed his first career weekly honor and is the first Oriole to win since his former teammate Jonathan Schoop last season for the period ending July 30th. In six games during the week, he hit .462 (12-for-26) with four runs, four doubles, two home runs, 10 RBIs and 22 total bases. Mancini is riding a nine-game hitting streak and this month is batting .354/.404/.620 with 12 runs, 28 hits, six doubles, five home runs and 19 RBIs.
What has been the key to Mancini’s strong finish?
“I don’t think there has been one key,” he said. “We’re all so motivated to finish the year strong and end the year on a good note as a team. It’s really important to go into the offseason and next season feeling good about how you finished the year. It’s 162, and even in Game 154 or 157 you have to come out with the same fire and intensity as Game 1.”
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde recently lauded Mancini for his leadership and talked about him taking even more of a vocal leadership role moving forward. Mancini is down for that.
“I’m definitely more a lead-by-example type. I’ll say some things if I really need to,” he said. “But moving forward, I think I can take on more of a vocal role. I did that before, in high school my senior year. Same thing my junior year in college. I’ve done it before. Obviously, this is a much bigger stage than that, but I do have experience doing that, and I’m not afraid to be a little more vocal. That is going my goal, really, going into next year, to develop in that role.”
Mancini missed Sunday’s game with a bruised left leg. But he’s back in the lineup tonight as the DH.
“Yesterday was really tough,” he said. “The ball that I got hit by (Justus) Sheffield the other night got me in a weird spot. My left leg has taken a beating lately. But it feels much better today.”
Meanwhile, Hays earned his first career Play of the Week honor and the second for the Orioles this season, following Anthony Santander, who was likewise honored on June 8. Hays reached over the wall to rob Guerrero in the fourth inning last Thursday at Oriole Park, and he had another play among the finalists for this award.
“I just found out about an hour ago,” Hays said. “It’s really cool to get that recognition late in the year. Especially because a couple of weeks ago, I thought I was home for the season. A nice recognition. It’s really cool to seem like have everything come together at the end of the year. Pretty exciting.”
Hays’ defensive gem also has topped Aaron Hicks’ sensational diving catch for the Yankees in an MLB Network unofficial Play of the Year poll.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Hays said. “You know there are a lot of guys here that I played with in the minor leagues, and to share all these experiences at the end of the year has been a lot of fun.”
Hays is doing his share at bat as well, hitting .302 in 15 games. He is 7-for-21 (.333) during a five-game hitting streak, with two doubles, two homers and five RBIs.
Hays said making a great play on defense begins with concentration before a pitch is even thrown.
“The most important part is just being locked in every pitch,” he said. “You never know which one will be the pitch where the ball is hit to you or in the gap or over your head. So running through scenarios every pitch, you are prepared when it does.”
Hays has been made aware that his catch robbing Guerrero happened in the same spot in the same park where the Angels’ Mike Trout made a remarkable catch to rob the Orioles’ J.J. Hardy during the 2012 season.
But which catch was better?
“I’m going with his,” Hays said. “His was better. Looked up to that guy for a long time, and he’s one of the best to ever do this. Going with his.”