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Wednesday Bird Droppings: Trey Mancini is “excited to be back”

In O’s news today: Mancini is down in Florida, Valdez could start and we remember past Opening Days.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning Birdland,

This time last year Trey Mancini was preparing for what had a chance to be the best season of his career. He had posted personal-bests of 35 home runs, 38 doubles and 135 OPS+ in 2019. Everything pointed to him making a run at his first all-star game.

Then his world turned upside down. Mancini left spring training for a “non-baseball” medical procedure, an ominous sign. About a week later it was revealed that he had been diagnosed with colon cancer and had begun treatments. The cancer would cost him the entirety of his 2020 season.

Fortunately, it has mostly been good news since then. He wrapped up his chemotherapy treatments in September, and he received “perfect” scans in mid-December. Now, it sure sounds like he is ready to take on a full workload this spring.

Mancini spoke to MLB Network earlier this week and explained that he is already down in Sarasota preparing for the season. The return of Mancini is huge for the Orioles. He adds another dimension to their lineup, not to mention he is a fan favorite and seemingly one of the nicest people in the sport.

Links & Notes

Mancini arrives early to camp: ‘I feel great’ |
It’s great to hear how well Mancini has bounced back from his cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatments. It will be interesting to see how he is deployed by manager Brandon Hyde. He is a natural first baseman, but has often been pushed to the outfield due to the presence of Chris Davis. Of course, DH could be an option on occasion as well.

Valdez was dominant starter in winter ball, worth a shot in the rotation | The Baltimore Sun
This is an interesting thought that had yet to occur to me. Cesar Valdez was so dominant our of the Orioles bullpen a season ago, but why not see what he can do as a starter. The O’s could always move him back to the bullpen. It’s harder to stretch a pitcher out in the middle of the season than shorten their outings.

Questions for Orioles manager Brandon Hyde |
This is a pretty big season for Hyde. It’s always been unclear if the Orioles view him as the manager of the future or simply a stop-gap that fits well with young players. While the O’s aren’t quite ready to compete, this is the most talented team he has helmed yet, and a slight overperformance could prove a lot.

Orioles’ Top 5 Opening Day moments |
The snowy Opening Day in 2003 will always stick in my head. I remember watching on TV, or at least trying to watch. The snowflakes were so big that it was basically impossible to see what was going on. Clearly I wasn’t the only having trouble as Jay Gibbons lost a fly ball that cost the Orioles runs, although they did end up as the victors.

Orioles birthday

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

Current Orioles right-hander Jorge Lopez turns 28 today. He appeared in nine games a season ago, allowing 27 earned runs over 38.1 innings. The former second-round pick is poised to figure into the O’s rotation battle this spring.

Cesar Izturis celebrates his 41st birthday. The shortstop spent three seasons with the O’s from 2009 through 2011. Altogether he batted .240/.283/.292 with three home runs and a 56 OPS+.

It’s the 51st birthday of Alberto Castillo. The former catcher wrapped his 12-year MLB career with an 11-game stint on the 2007 Orioles. He went 5-for-31 with a home run and two doubles.

Another catcher, Lenny Webster, turns 56 today. He played three seasons in Baltimore, accumulating a .265/.318/.394 batting line with an 87 OPS+.

The late Billy O’Dell (d. 2018) was born on this day in 1933. The southpaw spent five seasons with the Orioles from 1954 through 1959, missing the ‘55 season due to military service. He had a 2.86 ERA over 585.1 innings with the O’s and made the All-Star team twice.

Orioles history

2012 - The Orioles sign pitcher Luis Ayala, first baseman Nick Johnson and catcher Dan Sardinha to one-year contracts with invitations to spring training.