Mancini disappointed by All-Star snub

July 2nd, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- For weeks, had circled Sunday on his calendar, prepping to deliver some career-changing news. As the season’s first half barreled on, Mancini kept hitting and the Orioles kept campaigning. Few could doubt that Mancini looked like an All-Star. Then Sunday came, and he wasn’t.

So Mancini was forced to make calls “a little different” than the ones he’d hoped to make -- to his parents, to his sisters, to friends who’d hoped to meet him in Cleveland. The result was “probably the most emotional day I’ve had in a very long time.”

“I think I went through the five stages of grief, honestly,” Mancini said on Monday, a day after the American League rosters for the 2019 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard were announced without the Orioles' top player on them. “It was a full day. I can’t name all five off the top of my head, but I know sadness and anger are a couple of them. I felt every one in the book. There was also a lot of thankfulness, too, because of all the support I got from my teammates, my family and my friends. It helped make yesterday a little less bad.”

By Monday afternoon, Mancini had accepted the situation and resolved to move forward. Reacting publicly for the first time, Mancini lauded the season John Means has had to earn Baltimore’ lone All-Star selection, and he acknowledged the reality that last-place teams often get only one representative. He also praised the players who were selected, and said he’d prefer not to be tabbed eventually as an injury reserve, “because that means somebody went down.”

But he also spoke candidly about the disappointment in not being selected, despite his breakout season.

“There is nothing I can do about it now, but it’s tough,” he said. “Yesterday was a really hard day for me, I’m not going to lie. … I think I deserve to be going.”

It’s not hard to see why. Mancini entered play Monday leading the Orioles in nearly every offensive category, and ranking in the top 10 among AL outfielders in major ones like average, home runs and OPS. Despite hitting .302 with a .901 OPS and 17 home runs, Mancini got little support in The Primary phase of the fan election and wasn’t voted in by his peers.

Mike Trout, George Springer and Michael Brantley were voted in as starters, while Mookie Betts, Joey Gallo, Austin Meadows and Whit Merrifield -- Betts, Gallo and Meadows via the Player Ballot -- are ticketed for Cleveland as the AL’s outfield reserves. Carlos Santana (starter), Jose Abreu and Daniel Vogelbach made the team as first basemen, where Mancini would also be a candidate to sneak in as an injury replacement.

“I let myself be sad yesterday, and I woke up today with my head high. This team needs me to be who I am, and that’s what I’m going to do,” Mancini said. “I want to say John [Means] 100 percent deserves it. He’s been unbelievable for us this year. For him to think he’ll be the first cut from spring training and then to make the All-Star team, it’s incredible. He’s been lights out for us this year. He’s been a godsend for us this year, and he 100 percent deserves it. But I do wish I was going with him."

Pitching plans
Means’ selection prompted the Orioles to reshuffle their ever-changing pitching plans even more. The club must prepare for the possibility of Means pitching in the game next Tuesday, and it prefers to keep their rookie southpaw on full rest afterward. The ripple effect is that Dylan Bundy gets pushed back twice, both this week and next.

Originally slated to pitch Tuesday against the Rays, Bundy will now go Friday in Toronto and pitch the first game out of the break, July 12 at home against Tampa Bay, manager Brandon Hyde said. Bundy’s starts will come on eight and six days of rest, respectively. He declined comment when approached at his locker Monday.

“He feels fine, it’s nothing except wanting to push him back so we can reset our rotation following the All-Star break,” Hyde said. “It’s all kind of complicated. We were in my office for hours yesterday.”

The Orioles are planning for right-hander Asher Wojciechowski to start in Bundy’s place Tuesday. They originally announced that Wojciechowski would be optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after the club acquired him from the Indians on Monday for cash considerations. Hours later, Wojciechowski was with the team in Tampa.

“We’ve faced challenges all year juggling our rotation, not having a normal five starters to kind of roll out there,” Hyde said. “We’ve been mixing and matching all year long, with roster moves, transactions and the Norfolk shuttle … we have these off-days to play with, and we need arms. It’s where we are from a pitching staff standpoint right now.”

Skaggs reaction
Hyde began his media availability Monday by offering condolences to the Angels organization and the family of Tyler Skaggs, who died Monday at the age of 27.

“Our heart goes out to his family, his wife, the Angels organization. It just happened, so we’re pretty shocked right now and feel terrible for everybody involved. Just wanted to say how sorry we are,” Hyde said. “It’s a small community and a small fraternity of guys who care about each other. We compete for three hours every day, but when something like this happens, it affects everybody. It just sucks.”