Cubs’ Trey Mancini brings the World Series experience and survivor perspective

When Trey Mancini, the Cubs’ new starting baseman, discovers that White Sox reliever Liam Hendriks has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he tracks down Hendriks’ phone number.

On the first day of Hendrix’s treatment, Mancini, a cancer survivor, reached out to say, “If you need any advice, I’m here.”

“Different chemo,” Mancini said Monday. “But at the same time, you’re not going to feel perfect when you’re going through it. So, I wanted him to know I had at least some tips on what makes you feel better during chemo and how to get through it a little bit better.”

The Cubs introduced Mancini, who is joining the team on a two-year, $14 million guaranteed deal, at a Zoom press conference on Monday. His reputation for a solid hitter — the late last season slump aside — filled a need in the Cubs lineup. But it was clear that they also valued Mancini’s reputation off the field.

Mancini was the comeback MVP of 2021, coming back from battling stage III colon cancer the year before. He says now that his leg strength that season was “nowhere near” what it was before surgery and six months of chemotherapy. But he’s still mashing 21 home games in 2021.

Mancini has spent most of his career with the Orioles, who in 2013 put him in the eighth inning—that is, until last year’s deadline three-team player sent him to Houston. There, he hit a slump, as his batting average dropped to . 176 with the Astros.

“You handled everything really well,” he said. “Only, unfortunately, I fell off it at the wrong time and got some bad habits at the plate mechanically. But you learn a lot. And I think I pulled it off really well. And we won the World Series, which was great, and it contributed to the end there.”

When a collision on the baselines in Game 5 of the World Series alienated Astros first baseman Yuli Guriel for the rest of the postseason, Mancini stepped in. In the next inning, Mancini made a save at first base. In the next game, he scored his first hit in the playoffs.

Now, he’s bringing those lessons to a Cubs team that’s pulling itself out of the rebuild.

“Experience is important at this level,” said Mancini. “When I was a rookie, I sought the advice of all the veterans who were on the team, like Mark Trumbo, Adam Jones, Chris Davis, JJ Hardy, the list goes on and on. It helped me a lot to develop as a player.”

And Mancini’s status as a veteran joining a new team has him rethinking his commitment to Team Italy for this spring’s World Baseball Classic.

“Often when you’re around a new team and you want to get to know the players, it’s important to be there all spring,” said Mancini. “It’s on me because I wasn’t late until I knew what position I was going into.”

The Cubs added two veteran first basemen this offseason, Mancini and Eric Hosmer, one batting from the right side and one from the left. Mancini emphasized his ability to play the outside corner and act as a designated hitter. He said manager David Ross had told him that opposing rivalries would determine where he would play on any given day.

This season, Mancini has focused on returning to an above-center approach to the plate, and not pulling the ball too far. This is something he noticed he got away with last season.

“before I go [fighting cancer]Baseball slumps were the biggest problem I had in my life.” “And I’m lucky to say that was the biggest problem I had. But he sets a lot of things straight.”

The intensity and force with which he handles his job has not changed.

“But it makes you realize what the real problem is, what the problem with baseball is,” he said. “And you can bypass any of them.”

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