After struggling in the first half of the 2018 season, Trey Mancini paid no attention to All-Star voting last year. This year, even as the Orioles and their manager promote him for such an honor and Major League Baseball altered the voting system to add excitement, Mancini intends to again aim his focus elsewhere.
Mancini is the Orioles’ prime candidate for this summer’s All-Star Game, with the team regularly using a #VoteTrey hashtag on social media. Even if each organization wasn’t guaranteed at least one representative, Mancini would have a viable case. He entered play Wednesday ranked second in the American League in doubles, 13th in batting average, 16th in OPS and 17th in slugging percentage. Among outfielders, the players he’s competing with for fans’ votes, Mancini is second, fifth, eighth and eighth.
“I'm on the Trey Mancini-for-All-Star Game bandwagon; I'm driving the bus,” manager Brandon Hyde said Tuesday, the day voting opened. “This guy is an All-Star in every [way]. He's just had an amazing year. Such a class act — professional, plays hurt, wants to play every day, he's swung the bat really well, drives in runs, plays multiple positions and has just been having an All-Star-caliber year up to this point.”
Although fan voting still determines each league’s starters, MLB has done away with the “Final Vote” to determine each league’s final All-Star and instead added a voting “primary,” where fans can vote via Google or MLB websites through June 21. Beginning at noon June 26, they will have 28 hours to pick between finalists based on the top vote recipients in the primary, with nine outfielders and three of each other position advancing. The leading vote-getters among finalists will be the All-Star Game starters, with players and the Commissioner’s Office determining reserves and pitchers.
Mancini said he hadn’t heard much about the new process and admittedly didn’t know much about the old system, either. It didn’t affect him in 2018, when he had a .216/.292/.363 slashline in the first half. A changed mindset and approach has led to his success, he said, but he said he doesn’t plan to change the amount of attention he pays to All-Star voting.
“Sounds almost like an election in a way, like an actual [political] election,” Mancini told The Baltimore Sun. “But I’m not gonna be on there every day checking votes. It’s something that’s kind of out of your control.”
In that way, Mancini’s trying not to get too far ahead of himself. He appreciated Hyde’s praise, adding that he’s enjoyed playing for him and hopes to do so for years to come, but he also recognizes that he has to continue playing at this level with the end of voting still about a month away.
Still, to go from his slow start last season to an All-Star-worthy performance in a year would be Mancini’s favorite part of the recognition.
“It would be one of the biggest honors of my life,” Mancini said. “I think every kid that plays baseball dreams of being in an All-Star Game one day. I think especially with where I was last year, personally, at the All-Star break, it would just be hard to describe, to come back a year later and to make the game, when at the time, I thought there was a good chance I was getting sent down to Triple-A.
“I don’t know how I’ll react if it were to happen, but it would be pretty special.”
Davis expects to come off IL soon; Hyde unsure
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis spoke to reporters Wednesday for the first time since being placed on the 10-day injured list with left hip inflammation Sunday, saying he expects to rejoin the Orioles when first eligible Tuesday.
“Don’t feel like it’s gonna be a long, drawn-out thing,” Davis said. “Take advantage of these next however many days I have left and get ready to go when we go to Texas.”
Hyde, though, was less definite.
“He’s feeling better today,” Hyde said. “I just was talking with [head trainer Brian] Ebel about it and we really haven’t put a plan in place yet, so can’t really comment on that ’cause I’m just not really sure, to be honest with you. The good news is he’s feeling better today. Hopefully, he stays on that track.”
After beginning the season with what became a record hitless streak, Davis pushed his batting average to the cusp of .200. But in 12 games before being placed on the IL, he hit .122 with 25 strikeouts in 41 at-bats.
Hyde wasn’t sure whether the hip injury had affected Davis at the plate, though Davis said it’s something he’s been dealing with for “several weeks.” He hopes to not need a rehabilitation assignment before returning.
“Just kinda nagging,” Davis said. “Something that I figured was just general fatigue or soreness and just never really got any better. Kinda sucks, but it’s part of getting older.”
Around the horn
» Mark Trumbo (knee) went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his first rehab game for Double-A Bowie on Tuesday, but Hyde said he ran to first base without pain and felt well Wednesday.
» Right-hander Gabriel Ynoa will get another start, pitching Sunday’s series finale with the San Francisco Giants. Hyde was unsure whether Dan Straily would follow him in relief again, noting he could be available earlier in the series.
» Outfielder Yusniel Diaz, the top prospect the Orioles acquired in the Manny Machado trade, was activated from the minor league IL and transferred from Bowie to High-A Frederick.
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» Kelvin Cruz, the mayor of the Dominican Republic town of La Vega, home to Ynoa and Orioles infielder Jonathan Villar, visited them at Camden Yards on Wednesday.