DENVER — Rays pitcher Rich Hill called it back on May 20.
"Comeback Player of the Year should go to [Orioles outfielder] Trey Mancini," Hill said in his postgame press conference. "I think that goes without saying. Great guy, and happy to see him doing his thing out there on the field."
The fact that Mancini's able to play is nothing short of miraculous. The Baltimore Orioles outfielder and Winter Haven native was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in March of 2020.
"The last year and a half was something you have nightmares about," Mancini said Monday. But the 29-year-old has completed his comeback, and then some. He leads the Orioles with 16 home runs and 55 RBIs, and he came withing striking distance of winning the Home Run Derby at Coors Field in Denver.
"I was just so honored to be a part of it, and to be asked," Mancini said. "To make to the finals is something I think we’re going to look back on and really cherish and appreciate."
Mancini said he thought could win, but he also knew he was facing in the finals defending champ Pete Alonso.
Alonso, a Plant High School grad and former Florida Gator, smashed 74 total homers to become just the third player to repeat as Home Run Derby champion. Ken Griffey, Jr. (1998-'99) and Yoenis Cespeds (2013-'14) are the other two.
"I’m a power hitter. For me, I think I’m best power hitter on the planet," Alonso said confidently after his winning performance. He said his parents let him stay up past his bedtime to watch the Derby when he was a kid, and now Alonso says he's excited to put on his own show for the fans.
"To be able to participate is a dream come true. And to be able to do it back-to-back, this is really special for me, and really, really cool."
Rays manager Kevin Cash will manager the American League squad in tonight's All-Star Game (7:30 P.M.). He'll have three of his own players- infielder Joey Wendle, catcher Mike Zunino, and pitcher Andrew Kittredge- on his roster. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will lead the NL. The American League has won seven straight All-Star Games.