What Trey Mancini brings to the Cubs
Throughout his career, Trey Mancini has learned the value of being in and around major-league clubhouses.
“When you’re older you gain experience, you wanna give the knowledge that you’ve gained from those before you and from playing to the younger players,” the newest Cub said Monday afternoon in his introductory Zoom press conference.
It’s part of the reason why Jed Hoyer, Carter Hawkins, David Ross and the rest of the Cubs brass saw Mancini’s value beyond just his OPS and the number of home runs he can hit.
In a clubhouse that was thin on veterans — and postseason experience — the Cubs have done a lot this offseason to try and remedy that. Mancini becomes the fourth former World Series winner to be added to the team this winter, joining Eric Hosmer (2015), Cody Bellinger (2020) and Dansby Swanson (2021).
He joins off the heels of a 2022 season that ended with offensive struggles, but culminated in making a crucial defensive play at first base in Game 5 of the Fall Classic to help the Astros win their second title in 5 years.
“You have to stick through those times and even when you’re not feeling great, you’re playing for something much bigger than yourself,” Mancini said. “That’s something I knew even before that, but especially whenever you’re going through it, it’s tough but you have to stay the course ‘cause your number’s gonna be called when you least expect it.
“That’s what happened in Game 5 of the World Series when Yuli [Gurriel] went down. You gotta be ready every time.”
For Mancini, he means that.
In his big-league career, the 30-year-old has played over 200 games at left field and first base and has played 100 games at right field and 197 at designated hitter.
It’s in that versatile role where he sees himself fitting for the Cubs. Depending on the pitcher that day, he can play at first base and platoon with Hosmer. If Seiya Suzuki needs a day off in right, Mancini can play there. If Ross wants to get Ian Happ off his feet, he can play Mancini in left. And, if everything’s clicking from that trio but they want to keep his bat in the lineup, he can man the DH spot.
“I told [Ross], I don’t care where I play at all; I like playing,” Mancini said. “Wherever you want me, I’m there.”
In that sense, Mancini is showing his team-first mentality. He’s backing it up with action, too.
Mancini had originally committed to playing for Italy in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, but after signing with the Cubs, decided to withdraw himself from the competition.
“Whenever I decided to join the Cubs, I was talking with Jed and the front office and especially with me going to a new team, we thought it might behoove me to be [at Spring Training] the whole time with the team, especially since I’m gonna be kind a more veteran presence in the clubhouse,” Mancini said. “It probably will be better for me to stay there all spring and get to know the guys and be there.”
For the first time in his career, Mancini will be in a new clubhouse when Spring Training rolls around. And while the building in Mesa, Ariz. may be new, Mancini’s presence will be welcoming to a roster that’s suddenly full of young players and veteran, winning players.
“I think when you have a lot of exciting young talent meshed with some of the right veteran guys, that can be a great mix,” he said. “I think it’s just getting the right mix of people in there and I think that we’ve certainly done that. I’m excited for us all to be in the same clubhouse and get it started.”