8/10/2017 -- The Orioles beat the Athletics Thursday night in Oakland, 7-2. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)
With his role uncertain as a rookie without a roster spot entering spring training, Trey Mancini didn't let himself dream up any possible numbers for what will end up being his first full major league season.
As the complete picture of that year begins to take shape, they might be past what even the most optimistic guesses could be.
Two home runs Thursday gave Mancini 20 on the season, putting him within reach of Cal Ripken Jr.'s Orioles rookie record of 28 with 47 games to play, and ensuring whatever expectations were set for him will end up met.
"I don't know if it was unexpected," Mancini said. "I didn't really think too much before the season about how many home runs did I think I would hit or anything. It definitely feels good, especially back in spring training not knowing where I was going to be this year. Just really not try to take any time for granted here and trying to help this team win some games."
That he did so Thursday, in a stretch where both he and the club needed it, was what he focused most on. As a team, the Orioles left Anaheim frustrated Wednesday after dropping their last two games there to lose a winnable series against the Angels. Mancini went hitless in 11 at-bats there to drop his batting average to .231 since the All-Star break, but he rebounded with two homers and a double to bring him back to .253 since the break and .296 on the season.
"Honestly, part of it was just some balls dropping in," Mancini said. "There were a couple that got hit hard in Anaheim that got caught. For the most part, wasn't feeling great, which happens throughout the season. Just coming back today, [I was] trying to just hit the ball to right-center."
"Every time you think Trey is getting ready to maybe have a spot that some rookies do, he seems to get right back on track," manager Buck Showalter said. "That's a real testament to him and how strong he is mentally."
On Friday, Showalter elaborated on that a bit.
"He just has real concentration, every pitch," he said. "It's tough. Some qualities and stuff you have as a rookie, it's tough to maintain those for a long period of time. I'm not talking about a season. I'm talking about a potential career. But the same things that can make you successful are the things that can get in your way sometimes.
"He's done a good job. He's very coachable. Holds himself to a high standard. He doesn't pay a whole lot of attention to the hoopla about what people bring up. He realizes how fleeting it is, and he's got a very quiet self-confidence."