Trey Mancini is already embracing a versatile role with the Chicago Cubs.
Mancini’s experience at first base, both at the corner outfield and DH, gives manager David Ross options on how to use the 30-year-old.
Mancini is the eighth free agent the Cubs have signed to a major league contract since Dec. 14.
“I never played any of the other guys that were signed by the Cubs this offseason, but I did play them and I have great respect for all of them,” Mancini said Monday during his introductory video conference call. “That’s a big step and a big message that maybe this isn’t a long process, and I think we can turn things around very quickly.”
The Cubs felt Mancini was a good fit throughout the free agency process. He chalked it up to his ties to the Midwest, having played three seasons at Notre Dame before the Baltimore Orioles selected him in the eighth round of the 2013 draft.
Mancini’s first experience at Wrigley Field came in 2004, when he attended a few games that summer with one of his best friends. At one game, he wore a goatee in honor of then-Cubs pitcher Matt Clement.
the puppiesthe mutual interest of Mancini and the team did not diminish. Mancini knows where he plays, or even if he’s in the lineup, he’ll depend on the opposing starting pitcher, Ross conveyed to him during a phone conversation. Hosmer, who hits left, and Mancini, who hits right, provide platoon options at first base and designated hitter.
Mancini, who signed a two-year, $14 million contract with an opt-out after 2023 if he reaches 350 plate appearances, can also replace Ian Happ or Seiya Suzuki if Ross wants to give either outfielder a day. free or remove them. the feet of him as the DH. Mancini is the type of player an improved Cubs roster needs: a consistent hitter with an above-league OPS+ who can play multiple positions while providing a strong clubhouse presence.
“I told him, ‘I don’t care where I play at all, I just like to play. Wherever you want me, there I am,’” Mancini recalled of his conversation with Ross.
Ross will have a chance to see how Mancini best fits into the lineup during Cactus League games.
It appeared Mancini would miss a portion of spring training because he planned to play in the World Baseball Classic for Team Italy. However, after discussion with president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer and the Cubs’ front office, Mancini will not play in the WBC.
He decided to spend the entire camp with his new team to prepare for the season. The trip would have added to the hectic schedule. Italy is scheduled to play in the group from March 8-13 in Taiwan, and if they advance to the quarterfinals, they would play March 15-16 in Tokyo.
“We thought it would be in my best interest to be there all the time with the team, especially since I’m going to have a more senior presence in the clubhouse,” Mancini said. “I knew going into free agency, a lot of times when you’re around a new team and you want to get to know the guys, it’s important to be there all spring.
“So that’s my fault for not waiting (on committing to play in the WBC) until I knew what I was getting myself into.”
Mancini is coming off a World Series title with the Houston Astros after the Orioles traded him on Aug. 1. He initially played well for his new team, hitting six home runs in his first 18 games, but struggled in September, especially down the stretch when he hit .132/.231/.279 in his last 21 games of the season. regular.
His downfall continued into the postseason in a platoon role. He went 0-for-18 until he singled in the Astros’ Game 6 World Series win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
That was Mancini’s first World Series start. He was called up to replace Yuli Gurriel, who suffered a postseason-ending injury in the previous game.
“You have to put up with those tough times and even when you don’t feel good, you’re playing for something much bigger than yourself,” Mancini said. “That’s something I knew even before that, but especially when you’re going through it, it’s hard.
“But you have to stay the course because your number is going to get called when you least expect it, and that’s what happened. … You have to be ready all the time.”
Last year was the first time Mancini had felt fully recovered since beating stage 3 colon cancer that sidelined him in 2020. His leg strength took the longest to recover, and the offseason after of the 2021 season helped him get back on track.
“It definitely affected my strength and my legs, and as the season goes on, it may be a reflection of that,” Mancini said. “Your legs are extremely important for hitting and everything you do, so having my legs under me is very important.”
Mancini reached out to White Sox reliever Liam Hendriks as he undergoes treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“I wanted you to know that I have some advice, at least about what makes you feel better during chemotherapy and how to get through it a little better,” Mancini said.
Mancini sees this as a second chance after beating an aggressive, high-risk cancer that initially clouded his outlook.
“I haven’t changed much as a player, everything has the same intensity,” Mancini said. “I still want to do well and contribute and have a big impact on the team.
“But it makes you realize what is a real problem and what is a baseball problem and you can overcome any of them. It has given me a lot of perspective.”