I’m fortunate in a lot of ways. I’ve been blessed with great parents, great friends and all the basic necessities I could ever ask for.
I’ve also never been diagnosed with cancer.
I have family members who have been diagnosed. Thankfully, in most of those cases, it was caught very early in the process.
That also happens to be the case with Baltimore Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini.
Fresh off a strong finish to the 2019 season, 2020 was supposed to be a breakout season for Mancini. He arrived in Sarasota, Fla. excited for the Spring Training grind.
Instead, pre-workout tests determined Mancini had colon cancer.
At that point, you forget worrying about baseball. Orioles fans had already come to love Mancini for his humble personality. He was a young player coming into his own and for a fanbase reeling from the end of the Buck Showalter era, Mancini was the face of the franchise.
Mancini sat out the entire 2020 season as he received treatments to combat the tumor in his colon. As the MLB season came to a close, Mancini announced what we were all hoping for — he was cancer-free.
All of Mancini’s hard-work and determination culminated in a beautiful moment on Sunday — Mancini’s first professional at-bat since his diagnosis. And unsurprisingly, he hit a single.
Seeing Mancini back in the batter’s box is a happy feeling, but also a calming one. Twenty-twenty was such a disaster for countless reasons. Everyone has had their lives altered or severely impacted in one way or another.
Knowing that Mancini is back at the dish is a reminder that the best is yet to come and that things do get better. Seeing Mancini hit a single to the opposite field is further proof that regular life is on its way back.
Mancini’s comeback will be fully complete come April 1, when he makes his major league return to real games. April 8, however, will be the celebration of Mancini and what he’s accomplished.
I hate that I’m going to miss it.
Mancini, who turns 29 later this year, has one more season under team control before he’s an unrestricted free agent. My goal is to see him play again before there’s any chance of him playing in another uniform.
Mancini is my favorite player for a number of reasons. He’s good — he finished the 2019 season with a .899 OPS and 35 homers while showing improvement defensively — but he also plays the game admirably. He’s not the most physically gifted player in the world, but he practices hard and plays harder. Mancini had to fight to get to the majors — he didn’t play a full a season until he was 25.
But his biggest fight had little to do with baseball. And the fight he’s shown over the last 12 months has been spectacular.
So no matter how much you may dislike the Orioles or like to clown the team for how bad they’ve been (and likely are going to be), you cannot root against Trey Mancini. We’re all fans now.