Orioles' Trey Mancini moved out of leadoff spot amid unlucky stretch at plate

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini, in the midst of one of the worst slumps in his big league career, moved from first in the lineup to sixth for Monday's game against the Washington Nationals.

Manager Buck Showalter, asked whether Mancini being on a losing team for the first time in his career had anything to do with his slide, said there were plenty of factors he saw contributing to that.

"To be frank, probably somewhat," Showalter said. "Because he's been one of our more consistent guys, and will be again. ... I think he has good days and bad days with his knee. I tried to get him off it for a couple days, DHing, tried first base. It's a little less [strenuous], but probably not a whole lot, other than close to the dugout. I do think that sometimes some habits can develop there.

"But he's hit some balls hard — it's kind of like a snowball thing. When he does hit a ball hard, they make a great play on him. The baseball gods have not been kind to him."

The knee problem Showalter referenced is one that seems to be a clear demarcation line of Mancini's struggles. After he banged his knee sliding in foul territory into an unpadded portion of the outfield wall on April 20 at Camden Yards, Mancini came off the bench after sitting three days and was hitting .284/.352/.420 at the time. In 31 games since, Mancini is batting .210 with a .652 OPS.

There's nothing demonstrably different in his statistics before and after the knee problem, or from his standout 2017 season to this year. His batted-ball profile is largely the same, and almost identical in some cases. He still has his all-fields approach, and that he's hitting .240 is probably most closely associated with his batting average on balls in play (BABIP). It is .279 compared with last year's .352.

"He's going through an uncharacteristic period," Showalter said. "Trey is one of those guys that always seems like if he doesn't swing the bat well on a particular night, it doesn't carry over much. He's just got to trust himself. He's one of our better hitters and will be again.

"I have a lot of things that concern me, and when you see a guy who has been as good a performer as him go through a period like this, I don't worry. Trey will figure it out."

Trumbo returns

As part of the lineup shake-up that moved Mancini to sixth also included the return of Mark Trumbo, who is batting seventh as the designated hitter.

Trumbo missed four games with a knee problem that was revealed to be arthritis, which was aggravated during a four-hit game Tuesday night in Chicago.

Mancini is playing first base, as Chris Davis is sitting against a left-hander for the seventh time this season.

Around the horn

Left-hander Zac Lowther, who struck out 10 in six shutout innings Wednesday for Low-A Delmarva, was promoted Monday to High-A Frederick. He had a 1.16 ERA in six starts. ... Showalter said reliever Darren O'Day, who is on the disabled list with a hyperextended elbow that required a cortisone shot this weekend, might throw Tuesday. ... Colby Ramsus' hip is still "nagging," Showalter said, and the outfielder hasn't begun to play in extended spring training games. ... Closer Zach Britton, who will begin his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday, is excited, Showalter said.

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