The Red Sox were lost a few weeks ago and no one could find Trevor Story, the free-agent shortstop from the Rockies who had become a $140 million (over six years) second baseman at Fenway Park. A team that had just two World Series wins last October found themselves bottoming in the AL East with a record of 10-19.
Even after the Red Sox finally showed some life and struggle by winning back-to-back series against the Rangers and the Astros, Story still only batted .205 and batted .293 with a paltry .320 OPS.
Then last week everything changed against the Mariners when Story had the second three-homer game of his career at the start of a four-game sweep against Seattle that appears to have turned the Red Sox’s season around. Four hits all night, seven RBIs. Shortly thereafter, Story was American League Player of the Week for a slash line of .360/.452/1.120, reminding everyone how quickly things can still change in baseball for a player and his team.
On Tuesday night against the White Sox, Story hit another three-run homer, this time in the first inning of what converted into a 16-3 win that took the Red Sox’s record to 20-22. Apparently almost everyone but Papi Ortiz has started batting for the Red Sox lately. But everything seemed to be organizing around what was quickly becoming such an amazing story: Trevor Stories.
Right now, he’s the most dangerous .231 hitter in the entire sport as the Red Sox look like the hottest team in the league. History is up to eight homers and 33 RBIs and 23 runs scored. Just when people were wondering how much he missed Coors Field, he did what the Red Sox signed him to do: make his new stadium look as utterly homerun-friendly as his old one.
“I said [Story] a few weeks ago…we trust you,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said the other day. “He’s playing for free and I told him that in the recruitment process. You know, adding another athlete to the roster will help us.”
Not only did Story remind everyone beyond Red Sox fans how he always batted for his old team, it also reminded us that sometimes he moved to a new team, a new city, a new position, Changing bases with a new fan – and even higher expectations than ever – isn’t as easy as donning a new uniform.
We saw it again. And he finally heard it in Fenway after the White Sox finished a three-game sweep by the Sox. It was rock bottom for her and for Story. He struck out six times in that series, three in the last game. After the last one, the boos for him from the home crowd were as loud as before. He was unavailable to the media after that game as his racquet – his averaging a .194 after his last strikeout – was largely unavailable for his new team in April and now through May.
But during the first game of another series against Chicago, nobody was enjoying pitching their team, and nobody was enjoying pitching Trevor Story at all, who not only reminded people how he could bat, but showed it how he reacted to it being hit and knocked down.
Rockies manager Bud Black, a former Story skipper whose own team stood between 20 and 22 Tuesday night, said he never worried Story would turn things around.
Black: “He always took care of the right things. His team, his teammates and his respect for the game. He always has as much work capacity as any other player I’ve ever been with.”
So Story worked his way out of the hole he dug in the first month of the season, and the work really started to pay off via the 6-1 home streak that the Red Sox just finished. Then came that three-homer game against Seattle, it was like all the lights went on for him at once. Again: This is the hitter the Sox thought they were getting, the one whose presence in Cora’s batting order would make up for the right-handed hitter the Red Sox lost in Hunter Renfroe (31 home runs for Renfroe last season, 96 RBIs) .
Here’s what Cora said in Chicago after Story went deep again:
“He’s doing a great job of doing damage in the zone.”
Is he ever. History has now gone 18-to-76 in May, and that includes its slow start to the month. He has now hit eight home runs in his last 12 games. There are much bigger batting averages ahead of him in the Sox ranks. Rafael Devers, one of the best straight hitters in the world, sits at .337. Xander Bogaerts is .323. JD Martinez has four more hits on Tuesday and is at .366.
But the way the Sox have exploded just over the past week appears to have been sparked by the new guy slamming down behind them all. any story.