Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 12, 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 50 of 55 NOV. 12, 2022 51 IRISH IN THE PROS BY TODD D. BURLAGE T he incredible comeback story of for- mer Notre Dame slugger Trey Man- cini continues to add more inspiring chapters every year, following his can- cer diagnosis in 2020. Named by Major League Baseball as its 2021 American League Comeback Player of the Year after recovering from Stage 3 colon cancer, Mancini was traded on July 31, by the Baltimore Ori- oles to the Houston Astros. Mancini's relocation was bittersweet for a player who became a reliable slug- ger and a local inspiration during his successful eight-year run in the Orioles organization. Mancini was Baltimore's longest-tenured player when he was dealt. The trade sent Mancini away from the community he called home for almost a decade to a roster spot with the Hous- ton Astros, and ultimately a place in the 2022 World Series — his first-ever MLB postseason appearance. "To be back playing, and much less be playing in a postseason like I dreamed about as a kid is pretty incredible," said Mancini, whose Astros led the best-of- seven series with the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 heading into Game 6 Nov. 5 in Hous- ton. "There's definitely life after chemo and treatment. It hasn't hit me yet." Wasting no time, Mancini made a noisy arrival at his new home with his first career grand slam coming less than a week after he was summoned to Hous- ton. For this season, Mancini had 124 hits, 18 home runs and 63 RBI, through the first four games of the World Series — 746 hits, 125 homers and 244 RBI for his career. INSPIRATION PERSONIFIED Mancini was an eighth-round draft pick from Notre Dame by Baltimore in 2013. The outfielder/first baseman spent three seasons developing in the minors there before he was called up to "the bigs" for good in 2016. The Winter Haven, Fla., native be- came a steady contributor for the Ori- oles from 2017-19 — averaging 160.3 hits, 27.6 home runs and 77.6 RBI in those three seasons — until the un- thinkable struck during spring train- ing in 2020 when a routine physical for chronic sluggishness turned up a cancer diagnosis, on his 28th birthday. "Obviously nothing can truly pre- pare you for a cancer diagnosis when you're in your 20s," Mancini, now 30, shared via Twitter. "I couldn't control that I had cancer. I couldn't control the fact that I needed to do chemotherapy. You've got to wear it sometimes. Get up every day and attack it." Surgical removal of a baseball-sized tu- mor from his colon preceded an aggres- sive every-other-week, six-month che- motherapy regimen that kept Mancini off the field in 2020, but remarkably couldn't keep him off it in 2021, and beyond. Mancini played in 147 games that 2021 season, and he hit 21 home runs with 71 RBI. His recovery story became well doc- umented in July 2021 when he hit 24 home runs to finish as runner-up in the annual home run derby during the MLB All-Star weekend. Mancini remains cancer free, and still plenty valuable. "I'll have time to go over the last two or three years and think of the proper words to say what the journey means,'" Mancini said. "But I'm just so happy." ✦ Mancini has gone from beating cancer to playing in the World Series with the Houston Astros. PHOTO COURTESY MLB Trey Mancini Enjoying His Lone Star State Relocation IRISH IN THE NFL HIGHLIGHTS: WEEK 8 • Chase Claypool (Played at Notre Dame from 2016-19), WR, Chicago Bears: Traded to the Bears from the Pittsburgh Steelers Nov. 1 for a second-round pick … In his final game with the Steelers, he started, caught 4 passes for 45 yards and threw a 1-yard touchdown pass in a 35-13 loss to the Eagles … Compiled 32 catches for 311 yards and 1 touchdown plus 8 carries for 55 yards in eight games with 2-6 Pittsburgh. • Cole Kmet (2017-19), TE, Chicago Bears: Started and caught 2 passes for 11 yards and a touchdown in the Bears' 49-29 loss to the Cowboys … It was his first TD since Dec. 6, 2020, a stretch of 29 games if you include a playoff game in January 2021 … Has started eight games for 3-5 Chicago and compiled 14 catches for 149 yards and 1 touchdown. • Julian Love (2016-18), S, New York Giants: Started and made 8 tackles in the Giants' 27-13 loss to the Seahawks … Has recorded 58 tackles with 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and 1 inter- ception in eight (all starts) games for 6-2 New York. • Jaylon Smith (2013-15), LB, New York Giants: Started and made 7 tackles in the Giants' 27-13 loss to the Seahawks … Has appeared in five games (3 starts) and made 26 tackles for 6-2 New York.

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