BALTIMORE — Even before he arrived at Camden Yards as a member of the road team, this visit was different for Trey Mancini.
“It was my first time riding a bus here,” he said. “It was rather put down here than parked in the parking lot.”
Mancini played in Baltimore Thursday night for the first time since the Orioles sent him to the Houston Astros a day before the Aug. 2 trade deadline. Mancini received a standing ovation in the second inning when he first came to the plate, but then looked out.
“The fans and I have such a great relationship here and they will always be a special part of my baseball experience,” Mancini said before the game. “So I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
The warm reaction from fans was no surprise. Mancini played for the Orioles from 2016 until this August. When he missed all of 2020 after being diagnosed with colon cancer, then returned and won Comeback Player of the Year in 2021, it was one of baseball’s heartwarming stories.
“It was my first time dealing with someone who was told they had cancer in my office, parents and loved ones there, and listening to the doctors, and it was a day I’ll never forget,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. . “I just learned so much from him during that time, honestly, from someone who’s been through this crazy adversity. A young man to get this cancer, which is so rare for people his age, and to deal with it the way he did. inspiring.”
Mancini last hit as an Oriole at Camden Yards on July 28. Fans gave him a standing ovation whenever he was replaced before the team’s next home game and he hit an inside-the-park home run.
Baltimore has remained in the postseason race without Mancini, though the Orioles are running out of time. With a 2-0 victory Thursday night, the Orioles fell four games behind the Seattle Mariners for the final wild card in the American League.
Mancini and the Astros have already won the AL West title, making him play in the postseason for the first time. He made his major league debut in 2016 — the last time Baltimore qualified — but played in just five games for the Orioles that year and did not participate in a wild-card loss to Toronto.
From then on, Mancini hit over 20 homers in every season he played for Baltimore until he was traded this year. On Thursday, he was back, but this time in the visitors’ clubhouse.
“I didn’t really know where anything was in the locker room, where the kitchen was, anything like that,” he said. “So it was a little strange to be in such a familiar place, but some of it so foreign.”
Before the start of the game, Mancini received a short tribute on the scoreboard and the fans gave him a nice round of applause. He took off his hat and clapped his hands in response. Then came the long reception before his first shot.