Orioles first base prospect Trey Mancini, one of the top hitters in the team’s farm system, joined the major league club Sunday for his first major league call-up.
“It’s a dream come true,” Mancini said before Sunday’s game at Camden Yards. “It’s the reason I’ve been playing baseball since I was 4 years old, was to one day make the Major Leagues. It hasn’t all really hit me yet cause it all happened really fast. I found out yesterday evening, but I’m just trying to take it all in right now.”
Mancini’s first major league call was part of a set of roster moves that brought reliever Darren O’Day (rotator cuff strain) off the disabled list for the stretch run, and ended the season of outfielder Steve Pearce.
Pearce was placed on the 60-day disabled list with a strained flexor mass in his right elbow to create a spot on the 40-man roster for Mancini. Manager Buck Showalter said Pearce was contemplating surgery on his elbow.
“It’s not Tommy John,” Showalter said. “It’s different. This one is a four-to-six month rehab. He wants to be ready for spring training. I asked the same questions. It’s not [Tommy John]. There’s three little places, areas where he has got some tears. He wants to go in and repair as much as he can.”
Once it became clear he wouldn’t even be able to serve as a designated hitter should the Orioles make a deep postseason run, the decision for Pearce and the Orioles to end his season was obvious.
When Pearce aggravated the injury a second time last week in Boston, Showalter said the team considered adding an outfielder in his place. But with Michael Bourn, Nolan Reimold, and Drew Stubbs all on the bench, Showalter believes a talented right-handed hitter like Mancini will be a bigger help.
“It allows us to, if we want to, to pinch hit earlier in the game and have some coverage against left-handed relievers,” Showalter said. “It’s just September baseball. Also, Dariel Alvarez’ wife is having complications with her pregnancy, and he flew home to be with her yesterday. So that wasn’t an option.”
Mancini hit .359 to win the Eastern League batting title at Double-A Bowie in 2015, and followed that up by hitting .282 with 20 home runs and 26 doubles in 142 games between Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.
He said that overall, the season went as he drew it up, even as he made a somewhat surprising return to Bowie to start the season.
"The jump to Triple-A, it took a little bit of time to adjust to," Mancini said. "As far as the experience level goes up there, there’s a lot of older guys that have been around and they know how to pitch guys. So, [I was] making some adjustments. A big difference I saw was in 2-0, 3-1 counts you get a lot of changeups and sliders and kind of learn pitchers' tendencies. So that definitely helped my progress, I think.”
Mancini was at dinner with his parents in Sarasota when he got the news from director of player development Brian Graham on Saturday night. He had previously been part of the team’s minicamp of players staying ready at their spring training facility.
“Every year, guys get called up from down there, so even when they told us we were going down there, it’s exciting because you know there’s a chance you could get called up,” Mancini said. “You just go down there and work hard every day and do what you’ve been doing for 150 some or more days including spring training."
He was to be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this fall, so the Orioles already needed to add him to the 40-man roster eventually.
Around the horn: More than five weeks after a rotator cuff strain landed O’Day on the disabled list for his second stint this season, the Orioles activated him for their crucial stretch run. O’Day, who previously missed seven weeks with a high hamstring strain, is 3-1 with a 3.95 ERA in 30 appearances this season. … Right fielder Mark Trumbo returned to the lineup after missing two games with back spasms. He tested his body in the outfield before the game with first base coach Wayne Kirby. … Showalter said surgery could be a consideration for rookie outfielder Joey Rickard (torn thumb ligament) if his progress continues to stall. "Joey's not progressing very well,” Showalter said. “That's not, I don't think that's imminent. At some point, if it doesn't get better, I don't know if they'll contemplate some surgery or something. I don't know. They're not there yet.” Rickard aggravated the injury taking his first swings against live pitching earlier this week in Sarasota.