It did not take Orioles manager Brandon Hyde long to recognize how hard Trey Mancini is on himself.
“I remember spring training, early, it was like the third or fourth game, and he was beating himself up over a couple of at-bats,” Hyde said. “I didn’t know him obviously very well and had to talk to him, like, ‘You’ll be all right. You’re 1-for-9 in spring training. What’s it matter?’ ”
Mancini again finds himself in a slump, hitless in his previous 24 at-bats entering Tuesday night’s matchup with the Washington Nationals. He admits he’s frustrated, but he knows another hit will come. Mancini, who ended the slump with a double in the third inning, has had plenty of hits in a season that Tuesday earned him the Orioles’ Heart and Hustle Award.
The award, voted on by former players through the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, “honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game.” One player from each team is recognized, with an overall winner announced in November.
Throughout Mancini’s time with the organization, the Orioles’ honor went to outfielder Adam Jones, now a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“He’s somebody that I try to follow in his footsteps and play the game like he does,” Mancini said. “More so than just about anybody I’ve played with, he enjoys the game and gives it his all every day out there, and that’s what I try to do here, too.”
Mancini’s hitless stretch has followed the disappointment with not making the American League All-Star team. Despite the recent stretch, he was hitting .281/.340/.500 entering Tuesday.
“Nobody’s immune to a slump,” Mancini said. “As good as this year’s been at times, for me, I knew that at some point a struggle would come. That’s just how it is. I’m not gonna lie, it has been tough, and sometimes, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel a little bit, and you just want to go out there and not try too hard, and I think that’s what I do sometimes whenever I’m struggling. I just try to get three hits in one at-bat, and you just can’t do that. I think I’ll get a hit again at some point.”
Hyde is close friends with Nationals manager Davey Martinez, bullpen coach Henry Blanco and assistant hitting coach Joe Dillon. Hyde and Martinez were both members of the Chicago Cubs’ coaching staff, with Hyde replacing Martinez as manager Joe Maddon’s bench coach when Martinez became Washington’s manager before last season.
“I wish him all the success in the world,” Hyde said. “Obviously, I hope we beat him these next couple games.”
Hyde and Dillon went to rival high schools in the Bay Area but also were on the same summer ball and junior college teams. While Hyde was a hitting coach in the then-Florida Marlins’ minor league system, Dillon was still playing but looking for a job after undergoing back surgery. Hyde reached out to the Marlins’ farm director, and in his first year with the organization, Dillon hit 39 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A in 2004 and was in the majors the next year.
“Made me look really good,” Hyde quipped.
Around the horn
Orioles infielder Hanser Alberto said his wife, Olga, is expecting their second daughter Wednesday, so it’s possible he goes on the paternity leave list. They plan to name her Hanna. … Mark Trumbo (right knee) has been taking batting practice on the field with the team recently and remains hopeful about a return in 2019. “He feels a lot better, so we’re being optimistic, and hopefully, he can return at some point,” Hyde said. … Outfielder DJ Stewart (sprained right ankle) was activated from the injured list then optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. Hyde said he expects Stewart to return to the majors at some point. … Norfolk infielder Jace Peterson, who played in 93 games for the Orioles in 2018 and was named International League Player of the Week on Monday, opted out of his contract with Baltimore and was granted his release.