In March, as the coronavirus shut down Major League Baseball, the Orioles announced outfielder Trey Mancini left spring training a week prior because a malignant tumor was removed from his colon.
Mancini revealed in April he has Stage III cancer and he started chemotherapy earlier that month.
Now, the outfielder is partnering the Colorectal Cancer Alliance to raise awareness, and the team is selling a T-shirt to recognize Mancini’s activism, with all net proceeds going to the medical group.
The shirt features the bat-carrying pissed off Oriole Bird, known as the Cuckoo Bird and the Psycho Bird, that the team used in 1968, and Macini’s number 16 taking the place of the “i” and “g” in the word “#Fight.”
Shirts cost $25 and are being sold exclusively through the Orioles’ site.
“I’ve learned firsthand that colon cancer doesn’t discriminate when it comes to age,” Mancini said in a statement. “One in ten colorectal cancer patients are diagnosed before age 50. While I never thought I would be in this position, I am fortunate to have a platform that allows me to help others. I’m looking forward to partnering with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance to raise awareness and help support my fellow fighters.”
Founded in 1999 by a group of 41 survivors, the Colorectal Cancer Alliance provides support for patients and their families, helps fund research on colorectal cancer and raises awareness about disease and measures to prevent it.
The group’s CEO, Michael Sapienza, said in a statement its Never Too Young Survey Report shows diagnoses of people younger than 50 are on the rise. More than half the patients said they were misdiagnosed with hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, anemia, mental health issues or other medical problems, according to the report.
“Trey’s willingness to share his story and use his platform to advocate and bring awareness will go a long way in saving lives,” Sapienza said in a statement.
The alliance lists weakness or fatigue, persistent abdominal discomfort, rectal bleeding and a change in bowel habits as symptoms of colorectal cancer.
Writing about his experience in The Players’ Tribune last April, Mancini said he would get tired after taking a few swings at the start of spring training.
“So I knew something was up, but I chalked it up to just getting older,” the 28-year-old said.
Team doctors later took blood samples at the start of camp, and Mancini’s iron levels came back low. Doctors asked him to take a second test, and the iron levels were lower than before.
They suggested he should have an endoscopy and colonoscopy to see if he had a stomach ulcer or celiac disease. Instead it was colon cancer, a disease Mancini’s father had when he was 58.
“We just thought I was way too young for me to have it,” Mancini wrote.
Mancini underwent surgery to have the malignant tumor removed on March 12.
Even though his ongoing treatment means Mancini will miss the season if and when baseball resumes, he wrote that he considers himself lucky.
“Honestly, I love the Orioles. Our team trainers have been so on top of everything. I am so appreciative for them, and also for the Orioles’ front office and ownership,” Mancini said. “They have treated me like family.”
After being drafted by the Orioles in the eighth round of the 2013 amateur draft, Mancini has blossomed into one of the team’s best hitters and a leader on the rebuilding ballclub.
Last year he hit .291 with 35 home runs and 97 RBI. And Mancini said he is looking to build on that when he’s able to return to the diamond.
“I’ve got other things to worry about right now, though. I know that,” he said. “But still, every once in a while I catch myself thinking ahead — to when chemo is over, to when they remove my port, to when I can start going full-speed again.”