The Red Sox had been optimistic that second baseman Trevor Story would be able to come off the injured list in time for the team’s final series of the season next week. That no longer seems realistic.
Story, who has been sidelined with a left heel contusion since September 11, has been feeling under the weather. As a result, he will not be able to travel with the Red Sox to Toronto for this weekend’s series against the Blue Jays, manager Alex Cora said on Thursday.
If this is indeed it for Story in 2022, it was certainly an eventful first season in Boston. After spending the first six years of his big-league career with the Rockies, the 29-year-old infielder signed a six-year, $140 million contract with the Red Sox in March.
That began a string of new experiences for Story, who was switching teams, cities, leagues, and positions while becoming a father for the first time. Shortly into his Red Sox tenure, Story missed three games in April due to a stomach bug. He then missed 38 games over the summer after being hit by a pitch on July 12 that caused a small hairline fracture near his right wrist.
The heel contusion that Story sustained in Baltimore earlier this month has him on track to miss the final 21 games of the season. If he does not appear in another contest, Story would have only played in 94 games this year. Outside of the COVID-shortened 2020 season — in which he appeared in 59 of 60 games for Colorado — that would be the lowest total of his career.
In those 94 games, Story proved to be inconsistent at times offensively. While the right-handed hitter had his moments — such as when he put the Red Sox on his back for a week in May — he ultimately slashed just .238/.303/.434 with 22 doubles, 16 home runs, 66 RBIs, 53 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, 32 walks, and 122 strikeouts in 396 plate appearances. With a 100 wRC+, he was, in essence, a league-average hitter.
Defensively, however, Story proved to be far above average. His six defensive runs saved rank eighth among all major-league second basemen. That level of production comes after Story had only played shortstop in his six seasons with the Rockies.
Between what he did at the plate and in the field, Story ranks fifth on the Red Sox in bWAR (2.5), per Baseball-Reference. By no means is that bad, though it is rather underwhelming for a player of Story’s caliber.
In a recent conversation with Cora at Tropicana Field, Story vowed that he would be better in 2023.
“I said, ‘We’re going to be better. I promise you we’re going to be better,” Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo). “He’s like, ‘I promise you I’m going to be better.’ So we’re on the same page as far as that.”
Story, who will be entering the second year of his six-year deal, is expected to be a big part of the Red Sox roster for the foreseeable future. The same cannot be said for Xander Bogaerts, who has the ability to opt out of his deal and become a free-agent this winter.
In theory, the Red Sox could move Story back to his natural position at shortstop if Bogaerts winds up signing elsewhere in 2023. Cora, however, does not want to entertain that possibility quite yet.
“Obviously, the goal here is for him to play second. I don’t want him to play short,” Cora said. “But just the athlete, you see it. You see the athlete and the range. It’s not that he’s fast. It’s one thing to be fast. I was slow, I was a slow runner, but I was a quick defender. He’s both, with the way he moves. It’s impressive.”
Hailed by Cora as a “great” teammate, Story has already said that he would like to continue playing alongside Bogaerts beyond this season. Cora anticipates that he will play a key role in recruiting other free agents as well.
“He’s all-in with us. He’s a good player,” said Cora. “He is. You see the record when he played and he didn’t play. It’s day and night. He’s going to help us to win a lot of games.”
(Picture of Trevor Story: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)