So far in this series we’ve profiled Cubs hitters from leadoff to cleanup: Nico Hoerner, Dansby Swanson, Ian Happ and Cody Bellinger. This week, we’ll bring you Trey Mancini and Eric Hosmer, and next week we’ll have Patrick Wisdom, Tucker Barnhart, and Nick Madrigal for the nicely balanced starting nine. After that, we’ll have the bench and then the starting pitchers. Eventually we’ll have capsules of the entire 40-man roster.
But now’s the time for former Baltimore Oriole, Houston Astro, and cancer survivor Joseph Anthony Mancini III (Trey) to take his bows. Mancini has done well in most aspects of the game while with the Chicago Cubs, though it has become apparent that he’s not really a viable outfielder. First base and DH are his best positions at age 31, with more mileage than most.
Mancini’s slash line numbers (through games of April 12) of .275/.286/.350, with one home run and nine RBI , aren’t really indicative of any kind of success, but 40 at-bats aren’t much of a sample size. Mancini has driven in a couple of big runs but his spot certainly isn’t guaranteed by any means. He would at least seem a candidate to flip-flop with Patrick Wisdom in the batting order and could easily see more bench time with Wisdom, Luis Torrens, and Nick Madrigal looking for at-bats and Eric Hosmer being reasonably productive at first base/DH.
Eighth-round pick Mancini was on the verge of stardom when he was struck down by colon cancer in 2020 — he had clobbered 35 home runs the previous year, his fourth in the Major Leagues. His comeback year was not bad, with 21 long flies and 71 runs knocked in, but that output petered out to 10 and 41 in 2022 and Mancini was packed off to Houston, where he was able to be on a World Championship squad and hit another eight homers and drove in 22 for a final slash of .239/.319/.391, which earned him a two-year, prove-it kind of deal from the Cubs.
Every day is now a gift for Mancini, who said: “I’m very proud of where I am right now. Feeling like myself and feeling great is something I am very appreciative of and don’t take for granted at all,” Mancini said. “I’m hoping to take a lot of that perspective into this year. I really think I’m going to appreciate — not that I didn’t before — but I will really appreciate being able to play Major League Baseball every single day.”
He also wrote a terrific article for the Players’ Tribune in 2020, detailing his battle with cancer.
It’s easy to be on Mancini’s side in this, and one certainly wishes him the best. But the jury is still out on whether or not his skills are what the Cubs need in more than the immediate future and it can be anticipated that he’ll be replaced by a younger player at some point. It’s just that the juncture is as yet unclear.
He’s obviously a really stand-up guy — witness his comments on misplaying a ball in right field the other day: “Bad read, bad jump, bad route,” Mancini told The Athletic of the play (subscription required). “The ball’s gotta be caught. It cost us a run at least, maybe two if I stay on my feet and catch it. Who knows what happens, but unfortunately it gave Jamo a couple extra runs to his name and even more importantly kind of got us off to not a great start. It doesn’t need to be said, but that’s completely on me. When I am out there, I gotta get a better jump than that. It’s 100 percent on me and no excuses at all.”
Which is great, and a wonderful moment and all, but the play on the field is what determines how this all works out. Hitting for some kind of power wouldn’t hurt a bit. Let’s hope for more output like the night Mancini had on the 11th.
His future remains to be seen, but for now, Mancini is happy just to be around. He’s more or less platooning with Eric Hosmer at DH/1B, which means he’s on Matt Mervis Watch, but both gentlemen may well be able to play themselves on to other squads. Or not.
Mancini seems more likely to stick. And for now, the Cubs are happy to have him.