Good morning, Camden Chatters.
It’s been a strange spring training in a lot of ways. With COVID protocols in place, a lot of teammates haven’t gotten to mix and mingle as much as they normally would. Media isn’t allowed at workouts, so beat writers can only report on whomever happens to be that day’s Zoom interviewee instead of hanging out in the clubhouse to fill up their notebooks from multiple players. There’s a sense of detachment and isolation at this year’s camp that you don’t see in a normal spring.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for a good, old-fashioned, inspirational story.
Trey Mancini is just such a story. All eyes are on the 28-year-old fan favorite and clubhouse leader this spring as he returns from his heroic battle with Stage 3 colon cancer that cost him the entire 2020 season.
It would certainly be understandable if Mancini needed to be eased back into things slowly. Heck, the fact that he’s even participating in baseball activities this spring, less than a year after he had a malignant tumor in his colon surgically removed, followed by months of grueling chemotherapy, is miraculous in itself.
And yet, Mancini doesn’t seem to have missed a beat, telling reporters yesterday that he feels “no different” than he did before the cancer ordeal. “From every standpoint of the game, I feel just like I did before,” he said.
Mancini’s return to the Orioles has been a joyous one for everyone involved. “I made sure to enjoy it and kind of cherish today because there were times, especially when I got diagnosed early on, where I wasn’t totally sure if I’d be playing baseball again,” he said.
The thought of Trey Mancini being back in the Orioles lineup on Opening Day — and getting a raucous standing ovation from the Baltimore crowd, if fans are allowed at games — would serve as one of the happiest, feel-good stories in recent O’s history. No matter how ugly the season might get for the Orioles in the win-loss ledger, a return to full health for Mancini would qualify 2021 as a success all on its own.
Mancini is back with Orioles, thankful for health and support - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff has plenty more reactions from Mancini and his teammates about his comeback. Rio Ruiz’s quote that he’d never given a bigger hug than the one he gave Trey elicited an audible “Aw!” from me.
Letters From Spring: The Baltimore Orioles – The Athletic
Joe Posnanski is offering his thoughts on each MLB club leading up to the start of the season, and yesterday was the Orioles’ turn. Trigger warning: there’s plenty of discussion about Jake Arrieta, Mike Yastrzemski, and other disastrous Orioles mistakes in recent years.
Rio Ruiz: “This organization is in a great spot” - Steve Melewski
Melewski says Ruiz has the edge to win the third base job even though “there are plenty in camp who could make a push for his spot.” Are there, though? I think Ruiz has the edge to win the third base job mainly because there’s almost nobody to compete for his spot.
Can bullpen do as well or better in 2021? - School of Roch
After trading Mychal Givens, Miguel Castro, and Richard Bleier last season, the O’s now have one of the most anonymous bullpens in baseball. But this hodgepodge crew could still get the job done in 2021, Roch Kubatko writes.
Orioles birthdays and history
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Two ex-Orioles were born on this day: former player and coach John “T-Bone” Shelby (63) and 1995-96 slugger Bobby Bonilla (58).
On this day five years ago, the Orioles appeared to have landed a prized free agent by reportedly inking outfielder Dexter Fowler to a three-year, $33 million contract. The deal was said to be all but done until — surprise! — Fowler showed up at Cubs camp two days later, announcing he’d re-signed with Chicago for one year. O’s then-GM Dan Duquette said the deal fell apart because Fowler wanted an opt-out after the first year that the Orioles, per one of ownership’s ill-advised lines in the sand, refused to give.
The decision to spurn Baltimore turned out spectacularly well for Fowler, who put up an All-Star season for the world champion Cubs in 2016, parlaying it into a five-year, $82.5 million contract with St. Louis. The O’s, meanwhile, could have really used Fowler’s offensive and defensive production that season, finishing four games out of first place and getting painfully eliminated in the Wild Card Game in Toronto.
Should’ve just given him the opt-out, you guys.