It had all of the makings of an emotional second. Image it: Sidelined by colon most cancers for nearly a 12 months, Trey Mancini returning to the Orioles’ clubhouse this spring to a hero’s welcome, mobbed by teammates and staffers thrilled to have fun their star slugger’s restoration and return to the sphere.
It’s a triumphant scene, and it nonetheless may occur. However Mancini has already eradicated a number of the suspense, by arriving in Sarasota, Fla., greater than per week earlier than pitchers and catchers report to camp. Orioles place gamers aren’t required to report till Feb. 21, with the primary full-squad exercise scheduled for Feb. 22.
Mancini is already there.
“I made a decision to return a little bit early since I had an prolonged period of time off final 12 months and wished to get the ball rolling a little bit early,” Mancini stated Tuesday, talking on SiriusXM’s MLB Community Radio. “I really feel nice and I’m excited to be again.”
Accompanying these feelings, Mancini stated, is a sense he described as “unusual.” The final time he walked the halls of the O’s spring complicated, his private life and the world at giant have been approaching twin, converging calamities. Recognized with Stage 3 colon most cancers within the first week of March 2020, Mancini, then 27, had a malignant tumor surgically faraway from his colon on the morning of March 13. Just a few hours later, Spring Coaching was shut down as a result of rising COVID-19 risk. In 5 days time, Mancini would be taught he’d require chemotherapy, receiving the information on his twenty eighth birthday. He spent the following months recovering in opposition to the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic.
Within the time since, few individuals outdoors of cleansing crews have entered the Orioles’ spring complicated. Mancini described one thing akin to returning to a time capsule, the place remnants of a previous actuality stay plain to see. There are whiteboards lining some hallways, for instance, nonetheless sporting never-erased messages virtually a 12 months outdated.
“All the pieces is form of because it was final March,” Mancini stated. “So it’s a little bit eerie.”
The hope now, for the Orioles and for Mancini, is that issues will quickly return to the way in which they have been earlier than final March. At that time, Mancini had already emerged as the brand new, homegrown face of the franchise, having damaged out to hit .291 with 35 residence runs and an .899 OPS for the rebuilding O’s in 2019. He had been thrust into an early management place within the clubhouse and brought it in stride, and he was seemingly coming into his prime on the sphere. Then most cancers worn out his whole age-28 season.
“I used to be capable of get began [training this winter] early, which was good, as a result of I undoubtedly had some floor to make up,” Mancini stated. “I needed to form of retrain myself in just a few of the intricacies of my swing. By the point December rolled round, I used to be proper the place I at all times am and doing my regular offseason development.”
Recounting that preliminary session again within the batting cage, Mancini added: “It was undoubtedly probably the most excited I’ve ever been to hit within the cage. … That first day, I used to be swinging like my hair was on fireplace.”
Final week, Mancini took on-field batting apply for the primary time since his prognosis. He stated he hasn’t misplaced his energy stroke.
“The wind was blowing out to left,” Mancini stated. “I bought one fairly early.”
Requested what he missed most about baseball throughout his time away, Mancini’s reply was easy. He’s making up for misplaced time already.
“Truthfully, simply being in a clubhouse with the fellows. It was so bizarre not going to the sphere day by day, being round a group and having the camaraderie,” Mancini stated. “I simply miss being there day by day.”