Mancini ready to swing in first HR Derby

June 29th, 2021

We don’t know yet if Trey Mancini’s remarkable comeback story will include an All-Star appearance, but either way, he will be a part of this year’s Midsummer Classic festivities. Mancini on Tuesday announced he would compete in the Home Run Derby, joining Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani, Mets slugger Pete Alonso and Rockies shortstop Trevor Story in the contest.

It will be the first career Derby appearance for Mancini, who is hitting .258 with 14 home runs and a .789 OPS in his first season back after beating stage 3 colon cancer. Mancini hit a career-high 35 home runs in 2019, then missed the 2020 season to battle the disease. He recently became the quickest Oriole player ever to reach 100 career home runs.

The Derby will be held July 12 at Coors Field in Colorado. Mancini will try to become the third Orioles player to win the star-studded event, joining Cal Ripken Jr. in 1991 and Miguel Tejada in 2004.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Mancini said. “The biggest reason I wanted to do it was to show people that there is life after a cancer diagnosis and after chemotherapy. I was in a hospital last year 12 times getting infused with chemo drugs, and I want those people who are going through that right now to thrive and succeed after that. It's about the duty I feel to them as well.”

Mancini, now 29, was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in March 2020, just as COVID-19 was sparking lockdowns across the nation. He underwent six months of chemotherapy treatment at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore amid the pandemic, recovering to make an emotional return to the field this spring.

It’s a story that’s already inspired millions, raised tens of thousands of dollars for cancer awareness, and made Mancini a poster-child not only for raising awareness of the disease, but for perseverance in the baseball world writ large. And yet to hear Mancini tell it, the story is not over. Now on the other side of his arduous journey, survivorship breeds a responsibility that has seeped into his core values.

"I want to use my platform to help people out,” Mancini said. “Maybe some people will go and get checked, go to the doctor, just because they heard my story. I've heard about a couple instances where people have told me they did. So anytime I have a request, or anybody wants me to talk about what I went through, and quite frankly, still do go through, I want to do it to help others.”

As for the Derby itself, Mancini said Notre Dame University pitching coach Chuck Ristano will throw to him. Back in college, Ristano pitched to Mancini in the 2012 Big East Home Run Derby, which Mancini won. That was when Mancini promised Ristano they’d team up again if he ever made the Major League Derby. It was a pipe dream at the time. Now it’s reality.

“I’m keeping that promise,” Mancini said.