After the fifth inning in the 2022 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Philadephia Phillies, fans, players, and MLB staff shared in a moment of solidarity in the fight against cancer. As part of the MLB’s partnership with Stand up to Cancer, everyone in attendance at Citizens Bank Park received a sign on which they could write the name of family members and friends battling the disease. For Houston Astros right fielder, Trey Mancini, being able to experience this moment in person was “powerful.” In 2020, Mancini was diagnosed with colon cancer and was unsure if he would be back playing the sport he loved.
The Long Shot
Growing up in Winter Haven, Florida, Mancini’s life revolved around the baseball diamond. From the time he was eight years old, he traveled across the state and county with his family playing travel baseball. After high school, he was recruited by Notre Dame and played three years with the Fighting Irish before being drafted by the Orioles in the eighth round of the 2013 MLB draft. “I wasn’t always the best on the field,” Mancini told the Players Tribune. “It always seemed far-fetched and like such a long shot for me to be a major league baseball player.”
In 2017, Mancini had an outstanding rookie campaign hitting .293 for the Orioles and finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting. Unfortunately, the next season, injuries began to set in. Mancini started to slump in the first half of the 2018 season after he had slid into the outfield wall while chasing down a fly ball. Although he didn’t miss any time, the injury affected his production at the plate, and his batting average fell from .284 to .216. Mancini thought he was on the verge of getting sent down to the minors, but he turned it around, finishing the season with a .240 batting average. He took that momentum to the 2019 season, where he had the best season of his career so far, hitting .291 with a career-high 35 home runs.
Coming into spring training in 2020, Mancini was poised to build on last season’s success. But during his team physical, doctors noticed his iron levels were low. They ran some tests hoping he had Celiac disease or a stomach ulcer. Instead, after more tests, Mancini underwent a colonoscopy. Doctors found a tumor and told him that he had stage three Colon Cancer meaning he would have to undergo chemo at 27 years old.
“Up until that point, most of my biggest problems or worries were all baseball related,” Mancini said later. “Going through a slump was maybe the worst thing I had gone through, personally, and I’m very lucky to have said that at that point. I’d never been through anything like this with me or a family member. So it definitely put a lot in perspective.”
Throughout his six months of chemotherapy, Mancini aimed to be back on the field for the start of the 2021 season. With the help of his support system, family, and medical staff, Mancini was in the opening-day lineup against the Red Sox.
In his first season back since his diagnosis, Mancini hit .255 with 21 home runs, earning him the American League’s Comeback Player of the Year award. Off the field, he has been working hard to help those fighting the disease, raise awareness of colon cancer in young adults, and raise money for the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.
“A lot of people helped me out through my journey. Now, being able to inspire and help other people is what I see as returning the favor and something I want to do.”
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