For the Trey Mancini, it was an easy decision to accept an invitation to take part in the Home Run Derby competition in Denver on July 12 as part of the All-Star game festivities.
Mancini, during a Zoom interview today, talked about winning a home run derby once in college. But this occasion gives him another chance to inspire anyone dealing with cancer and trying to beat it. Mancini missed the entire 2020 season after his diagnosis and surgery for Stage 3 colon cancer.
He wants to take advantage of every chance to bring awareness and help others win a battle that he did.
“It’s been a crazy month,” he said. “I don’t think I will be getting an All-Star nod, but when you are asked to compete in the Home Run Derby, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. So, it’s something that I jumped on and, of course, I want to do it. Like I’ve said before, I think it brings in a huge audience that might not know who I am or my story that much.
“The biggest reason why I wanted to do it was to show people there is life after a cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy. I was in a hospital last year 12 times for three or four hours getting infused with chemo drugs. I want those people going through that right now to know that you can get through it and still live a normal life and thrive and compete after that. More importantly, it is kind of the duty I feel to them as well.”
Mancini’s story is well known throughout baseball, and his comeback continues to get deserved praise. As he continues to let others know they can win this battle, it creates demands on his time that can present a challenge.
“I want to use my platform to inspire people and help people out and maybe some people will go and get checked, go to the doctor just because they heard my story,” he said. “I’ve heard a couple of instances where people told me they did. So, I want to use my platform for good. So any time I have a request or anyone wants to talk about what I went through and, quite frankly, still go through, I want to do it to help others. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it gets tiring at times, especially when you are playing Major League Baseball every day against the best players in the world. It can be a lot to manage and navigate, but I try my best every day to balance it all.”
Mancini is batting just .216 with three homers in June. For the year, over 77 games, he is hitting .258/.332/.457/.789 with 16 doubles, 14 homers and 52 RBIs.
Two Orioles have won the Home Run Derby - Cal Ripken Jr. in 1991 in Toronto and Miguel Tejada as a last-minute replacement in 2004 in Houston. Chris Davis competed in 2013, Adam Jones in 2014, Manny Machado in 2015 and Mark Trumbo in 2016.
A few years back, Mancini did quite well in a college conference competition and now he’s keeping a promise made that day in terms of who will pitch to him in Denver.
“He’s the pitching coach at Notre Dame, his name is Chuck Ristano,” Mancini said. “He was the pitching coach when I was there. He’s been there since 2011, which was my freshman season. He threw to me in the Big East (conference) home run derby when I was in that back in 2012. We jokingly said after that, after I won that, if I was ever in the real Home Run Derby, I made a promise to him that he could throw to me. So, I’m keeping that promise.”
Mancini was asked further about his decision to take part in the derby rather than take three days off and rest.
“I mean, I never expected to be in it, or have the opportunity,” he said. “Like I said, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Down the line, 10 years from now, I don’t want to look back and wish I did the Home Run Derby and instead opted for a couple of days of rest. I feel good physically. I don’t really feel like I need the full four days. It’s just something I thought I’d look back someday and wish I would have done it, if I didn’t do it. So, yeah, it was a pretty easy decision.”
Mancini said he has yet to let his mind wander to how much fun that night at the derby could turn out to be.
“I really haven’t thought about it too much. I’ve honestly been a lot more concerned just about our games, and I think it’s no secret I haven’t been feeling great lately up at the plate. So, I’ve been trying to address that.
“Normally, when I’m not feeling good at the plate, it’s something mental, but there is a little physical hitch that’s going on and I’ve been working on that. So I haven’t thought much about the derby. After our game Sunday, before the All-Star break, I’ll definitely shift my focus over to that, but right now I have a job to do for this team and, you know, that is to figure it out a little bit and go out there and hit like I know how to.”