Of the many interesting stories that make up the Houston Astros’ 2022 World Series title, that of Trey Mancini might be the most heartwarming.
The infielder/outfielder spent the first four years of his MLB career as one of the best players on some very bad Baltimore Orioles teams, then his career was cut short by a diagnosis of colon cancer. After the Orioles announced he underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his colon, Mancini sat out the entire 2020 season while undergoing chemotherapy.
Mancini’s surgery was announced on March 12, 2020. Fast forward 31 months, he was winning his first career World Series title.
It’s been a long road back for Mancini, but not without the support of all of baseball. He said there were times when he was unsure if he would be able to play baseball again, but he was finally declared cancer-free in November of that year.
His return to MLB was impressive, while his status as a fan favorite was clear. He earned an invitation to Home Run Derby and AL Comeback Player of the Year honors in a 2021 season in which he hit .255/.326/.432 with 21 home runs and then was on his way to another solid season this year when the Orioles made the controversial decision to trade him to the Astros.
The Mancini trade was odd, as the Orioles hadn’t entirely ruled out pushing for a playoff spot. Mancini was a popular player, but also a pending free agent for a very forward-looking team. The advantage for Mancini was clear, however. He was on a much better team and headed to the playoffs for the first time in his career.
Mancini’s performance at the plate as Astro wasn’t exactly the stuff of legend (he hit .176 in the regular season and was playoff-free until Saturday), but he didn’t. Perhaps there hasn’t been a more crucial defensive play for the Astros than a catch to save the lead at first base in the eighth inning of Game 5.
Mancini was promoted to starting first baseman for Game 6 due to a knee injury to Yuli Gurriel, and he was on the field for the final. Say what you will about the Astros, but it’s hard not to be happy for a player like Mancini.
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