I Know He’s Struggling Badly, But I Love the Way Trey Mancini Talks About Things
Maybe it isn’t a surprise that a guy who survived Stage 3 colon cancer can speak with tremendous perspective. Trey Mancini has been through something a whole lot more difficult and scarier than facing down an 0-2 slider.
Yes, Mancini is struggling badly so far with the Cubs. His slash line is among the worst in baseball (.196/.220/.250/26 wRC+), he’s striking out more than ever, he’s not walking, his groundball rate is near 60%, and his defense has looked almost unplayable at times. It doesn’t take a sophisticated baseball analysis – or words from the man, himself – to know Mancini is a mess right now.
But even as we can acknowledge that, and even as we discuss how the Cubs can maneuver to get better production at his spots, I think we can also appreciate how Mancini talks about these things. Honestly, it makes me think about how I deal with tough times.
This read from Sahadev Sharma not only looks deeply at where Mancini has been, what’s been going on, and how he can get things right, but it features brutally honest quotes from Mancini:
Mancini admits that he’s caught up in his own head too much at the plate. He also concedes that it’s impossible not to think about the impression you’re making when you sign up with a new team:
“I’ve just got to find that stroke and focus on the pitcher,” Mancini said. “It’s too much indecisiveness. I’m trying to recognize the pitch too much. When I do that rather than being aggressive and sure of myself, it’s a lot of check swings and timid swings. Way too much chase, way too much trying too hard to recognize the pitch and hit it where I want rather than envisioning where I want it and then reacting based on this. It causes in-between swings and getting in a rut ….
“Whenever you’re in a new place, you want to have a good impression and you want the fans to like you,” Mancini said. “I think sometimes you can let that creep in too much and it comes out with playing with a little more anxiousness. If you’re timid or have anxiety out there, it’s not going to go well.”
Being caught in between at the plate can be one of the most challenging things for a hitter to overcome when you’re facing big league stuff, and when it is paired with the anxiety of trying to impress those around you, the feedback loop can compound and snowball.
Mancini says he tries to let the struggles bounce off of him after a game and not worry about it as soon as he leaves the field, “but I’m not going to lie, it’s hard for it not to creep into your head and it’s hard not to lose a little sleep over it and overthink things. We’re all human. It’s what we do. It’s a huge part of who were are whether we like it or not. I’m trying to exhaust every option I can think of.”
These aren’t necessarily things that every player would consciously wrap their arms around, let alone share with the world. A lot of times they are the things we think about a struggling player, but nobody says out loud.
I can’t sit here and tell you that Mancini is going to be fine going forward because he knows what he’s dealing with, and has embraced that challenge. The best I can offer is that Mancini doesn’t seem to be dealing with any physical issues, and has always hit to a certain baseline level in his career when healthy. It would be smarter to bet on a bounce-back than not.
In the meantime, I’m just going to appreciate Mancini’s willingness to discuss what he’s dealing with between the ears, and also his kind words for his teammates throughout the piece. He knows he’s got their support, and that’s a big part of what keeps moving him through this process.