TORONTO — When the Orioles’ Trey Mancini looks back, he figures it’s not the first time he’s taken on such a role. His senior class at Florida’s Winter Haven High School replaced a much larger one, leaving a leadership void that Mancini filled. He faced the same situation in college as a junior at Notre Dame.
Consider what he’s experienced this year with the Orioles another graduation of sorts. Given that the team lost notable faces Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop and others between the start of last season and this one, Mancini entered his third full major league season as one of only three position players on the Orioles’ Opening Day roster who had spent the previous two years in Baltimore.
Although he’s worked to embrace a leadership role this year, the 2019 Most Valuable Oriole looks to take greater steps forward in that department in 2020.
“We all know it’s happened quick for me,” said Mancini, 27. “I was a rookie two years ago, and now, we have so many guys really getting their first taste of the majors. There’s a lot of guys that have come over from other organizations and haven’t been here as long as I have. So I kind of realized, especially recently here in September, 36 guys here, that I probably have to step it up a little bit more.
“I’ve done it before, and obviously, this is a much bigger stage than that, but I do have experience doing that, and I’m not afraid to be a little more vocal.”
Mancini praised others who have handled the Orioles’ leadership responsibilities throughout the season, saying there has not been an absence in that area. Chris Davis, who has spent most of September on the bench, recently said he has used that time to serve in a mentoring and coaching role, and Mancini echoed as much. He also pointed to relievers Mychal Givens and Richard Bleier as the veteran voices of the pitching staff.
Although Mancini wants to rise to that level going forward, he doesn’t want to change who he is.
“I still want to be the same guy,” he said. “I want all of my teammates to respect me, think highly of me. I think that should be anybody’s goal as a teammate, so that’s what I’m hoping to do here going forward.”
Mancini passed on the notion that being a productive player is a prerequisite for leadership, though a season in which he’s hit 34 home runs and led the Orioles in most offensive categories certainly won’t hurt.
He’s also offered an example by playing his best baseball at the season’s end. Although the Orioles are nowhere near the playoffs, Mancini earned American League Player of the Week honors, and entering Thursday, his 1.058 OPS in September ranked 13th in the majors.
“I think our guys are continuing to play, we’re competing, and Trey leads the way with that,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Trey’s really hard on himself. He’s got a great attitude. Never takes a pitch off. I think a lot of our guys are following suit, and it’s great for our young guys to see that and to see guys try to continue to put up numbers and try to help the team win when a team is out of contention.”
Hyde has repeatedly noted how hard Mancini takes the Orioles’ losses, with 107 and counting with three games left this weekend in Boston. But Mancini sees potential for growth in a club that has enjoyed more individual successes than team ones.
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“It certainly hasn’t been fun, but you’ve got to look for little things throughout the season,” Mancini said. “Especially now in September, I think there have been some really good bright spots, so you look forward to that moving on into next year. I’m looking forward to this group sticking together and getting things rolling in spring training.”