Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2017 Issue

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

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IRISH IN THE PROS 58 MAY 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IRISH IN THE PROS BY MATT JONES T rey Mancini's young major league career could not be off to a better start. The 25-year-old Baltimore Ori- oles first baseman/outfielder hit seven home runs in his first 12 professional games to tie an MLB record. That matched the record set by Trevor Story, last year's first-half rookie star with the Colorado Rockies, and Dino Restelli of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who did it in 1949, for the most homers in the first 12 games of an MLB career. "It's humbling to hear that, es- pecially with how many legends have played the game," Mancini said of his hot start. "To make your mark in any way is really neat." Mancini, an eighth-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2013, played in five games last Sep- tember and had three homers, and began 2017 with four home runs in seven games. On Sept. 20 of last season, Mancini hit a home run in his second major league at-bat. Mancini, a native of Winter Haven, Fla., has started games at both left and right field, served as a designated hit- ter and entered as a pinch hitter. The Orioles are moving him around, only sparingly playing him at his natural position of first base. Through April 23, he was hitting .256 with five homers and 11 RBI while play- ing in 13 of Baltimore's first 17 contests. Mancini made his first career start in the leadoff spot April 19 against Cin- cinnati. He never hit higher than fifth in his first 13 major league games. "If you saw a picture of me when I was 10 years old, you would say that kid's not a leadoff hitter," Mancini said. "I was a pretty hefty youngster, and I never hit leadoff." Mancini, the 2015 Brooks Robin- son Minor League Player of the Year Award winner, played three seasons at Notre Dame from 2011-13. He hit .389 as a junior with seven home runs and 54 runs batted in. Mancini hit .345 with 28 homers and 133 RBI over his three seasons with the Irish. NFL NOTES • Former Notre Dame center John Sullivan has signed with the Los An- gles Rams. He spent eight seasons with the Minnesota Vikings (2008-15) but had to sit out 2015 while recovering from two back surgeries. He played the 2016 season with the Washington Redskins and made one start. Sullivan was a sixth-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2008. He has never made the Pro Bowl, but made the Pro Football Writers Association's All-Pro team in 2012, after helping running back Adrian Peterson rack up 2,097 rushing yards. • Former Irish running back George Atkinson re-signed with the Cleve- land Browns. Primarily a special teams player, the 24-year-old Atkinson was a kick returner at times and made six special teams tackles in 2016. In the season finale at Pittsburgh, he carried seven times for 34 yards and a touchdown. • Michael Floyd, who won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots in February, did not make the trip with the team to the White House in April. Floyd, who is currently a free agent, was among a large group of players who did not make the customary trip to visit with the President. A total of 34 Patriots players made the trip. NHL NOTES • Former Notre Dame star Anders Lee of the New York Is- landers scored a career-high 34 goals and added 18 assists for 52 points this past season. His 34 goals were the most by a former Notre Dame player in the NHL. Lee, current Irish junior goal- tender Cal Petersen and junior forward Anders Bjork were named to the U.S. Men's Na- tional Team that will compete at the 2017 IIHF Men's World Championship May 5-21 in Cologne, Germany, and Paris, France. • Three former Notre Dame players represented the Irish in the NHL playoffs: defenseman Ian Cole and wing Bryan Rust of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who posted a 4-1 series victory against Co- lumbus in the first round; and for- ward Vinnie Hinostroza of the Chi- cago Blackhawks, who were swept 4-0 by Nashville in the first round. NBA NOTES • Two former Notre Dame players saw their teams make the NBA play- offs. Second-year guard Jerian Grant of the Chicago Bulls played a key role off the bench this season, averaging 5.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. As of April 25, the No. 8-seeded Bulls were tied 2-2 with the top-seeded Boston Celtics in their first-round East- ern Conference series. Guard Pat Connoughton finished his second season averaging 8.1 min- utes and 2.5 points per game for the Portland Trail Blazers. In the season fi- nale against New Orleans, Connough- ton played 36 minutes and scored 19 points. As of April 23, the eighth- seeded Blazers trailed No. 1-seeded Golden State 3-0 in their first-round Western Conference series. ✦ Trey Mancini Is Thriving With The Baltimore Orioles Mancini, who made his debut with the Orioles late in the 2016 sea- son, tied an MLB record by hitting seven home runs in his first 12 professional games. PHOTO COURTESY BALTIMORE ORIOLES

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