Trey Mancini wanted to relax.
Honestly, he did. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde could tell the first baseman was pressing at the plate, so he gave Baltimore’s longest-tenured player the night off Monday to unwind and take in a 5-1 win against the Tampa Bay Rays from the dugout, enjoying a view at Camden Yards that Mancini might not have for much longer as trade speculation swirls.
“Me being classic me,” Mancini said, “by the third inning I’m going to the [batting] cage.”
With this being the final series at Camden Yards ahead of Tuesday’s Major League Baseball trade deadline, Mancini is bracing for the possibility that this will be his final time inside the dugout along the first base side of Camden Yards. He wants to treat it as if this is his final week, in a way, because he doesn’t want to waste this time in front of the home crowd that has cheered him on since 2016 by racking his brain for a way out of a slump that, entering Wednesday, has him hitless in his last 25 at-bats.
But old habits are hard to quit, so Mancini left the dugout and joined co-hitting coach Ryan Fuller in the batting cage shortly after the start of Monday’s game, looking for a way to break out of his mire. Still, he had it in the back of his mind — as he always does these days — of how precious this time could be.
“I don’t want to get too caught up in my current slump and struggles and take for granted playing here,” Mancini said, “because my whole career here is bigger than the last few games. I’ve gone through slumps before. I don’t want that to outweigh what the city and the fans mean to me.”
Mancini has consciously worked on the mental side of his game, doing yoga, meditation and breathing exercises to lessen the anger he’d feel after a strikeout when he was younger. He missed the 2020 season after undergoing surgery to remove a tumor from his colon and 12 rounds of biweekly chemotherapy treatments, and the pressure he felt to prove he could still play at the highest level despite what he’d gone through was intense — and it was largely self-applied pressure.
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Hyde recalled seeing him in a spring training game in 2019, his first year as manager. He wondered why Mancini had gotten so riled up about an at-bat that didn’t much matter in the grand scheme of things.
“But that’s just who he is,” Hyde said. “He’s a perfectionist. He’s a really, really good baseball player that feels he should do well, and when he has his struggles, he puts a lot of it upon himself and takes it extremely hard.”
After the 2021 season, he and his fiancée, Sara Perlman, went to Laguna Beach, California. It was a chance to reset after an “insane year,” Perlman said, one that included trade speculation around the deadline. He dealt with those questions at the deadline in 2019, and he’s doing so again now.
With that new mindset, Mancini is more “at peace” with whatever happens at the trade deadline. He’s hitting .268 with a .749 OPS — numbers that could help a contender in the playoffs, if not Baltimore on its own unexpected push for a wild-card spot.
“It’s definitely a strange position, especially with us playing so well,” Mancini said. “I obviously want to stay. I believe in this team, so I want to stay around and see what we can do. But at the same time, I understand the business side of it and what fits us personnel-wise. I’m well aware I could get dealt in the next week.”
So after spending two innings in the dugout along the first base line — the one he’s called home since 2016 — Mancini headed to the cage. He has a slump to break out of, after all, be it for the Orioles or another team within the next week.
There just wasn’t time to relax.