The Baltimore Orioles had to wait a bit for their home opener.
Home fans were more than ready on Thursday to greet Trey Mancini at Camden Yards after he missed all of last season.
Mancini started spring training with his teammates in 2020 when he began feeling lethargic. When blood tests revealed an iron deficiency, doctors suspected he might have celiac disease or a stomach ulcer. A colonoscopy revealed worse news — Mancini had stage 3 colon cancer at 27 years old.
A season removed from slugging 35 home runs, Mancini was afflicted with a disease that had struck his father at 58 years old.
'I wasn't entirely sure I'd be playing baseball again'
That was March 6, 2020. Six days later, as baseball shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mancini underwent surgery at Johns Hopkins to remove the tumor. On April 13, he started chemotherapy.
“There were times early on when I wasn’t entirely sure I’d be playing baseball again,” Mancini told MLB.com in March. “I'd be lying if I'd say that was the first thing that came to mind. The whole time I just wanted to be healthy long-term and live a long life. And baseball definitely was on the back burner when I was going through all that.”
Warm welcome in return to Camden Yards
After months of difficult but successful treatment, doctors declared Mancini cancer-free in November. On Thursday, Orioles faithful greeted him with a rousing ovation in his first game at Camden Yards since 2019 as he took the field to face the Boston Red Sox.
Thursday wasn't Mancini's return to the baseball diamond. He received a similar ovation during his spring training debut in Sarasota, Florida. He's since played in each of Baltimore's first six games on the road against the Red Sox and New York Yankees, hitting .167 with three RBI in 24 at-bats. But the slow start is likely the least of his worries.
That he's healthy and back on the field just a year removed from cancer surgery is more than enough reason to celebrate.
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