Trevor Story wants to return to the Red Sox this season

BOSTON, MA - MAY 19: Trevor Story #10 of the Boston Red Sox tips his cap to the crows after a game against the Seattle Mariners on May 19, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 19: Trevor Story #10 of the Boston Red Sox tips his cap to the crows after a game against the Seattle Mariners on May 19, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Boston Red Sox infielder Trevor Story’s season might not be over yet

Injuries have decimated the Boston Red Sox all year and sidelined several key players for the remainder of the season, but Trevor Story aims to avoid adding his name to the list of Sox we won’t see take the field again until 2023.

Story is serving his second stint on the Injured List this season. He missed over a month this summer after getting drilled on the hand by a pitch in Tampa Bay on July 12. This time, he’s sidelined by a heel contusion from slipping on the first base bag during a game in Baltimore on September 11.

The Red Sox have nothing to play for this season. They’re already mathematically eliminated from the division race and sit 10 games out of a Wild Card spot with only 13 games remaining. Auditioning younger players to evaluate if they should factor into next year’s roster should be the priority at this stage of the season.

But even though Story’s return would be too little, too late to save Boston’s floundering season, the veteran infielder isn’t ready to call his season over, according to MassLive’s Christopher Smith.

"“I don’t think we’ve made that decision yet of shutting it down totally. I think if I’m able to play, then I think I can play. I think that’s how I’ve always attacked this game. And I know how special it is to play. So if I’m able to do it when I’m eligible to come off, then I think I’ll play.”"

When the Red Sox placed Story on the IL on Thursday, the move was retroactive to September 19. He won’t be eligible to play until September 29 at the earliest, at which point there will only be seven games remaining in the regular season. Is it worthwhile to bring him back for a week of meaningless games?

In Story’s mind, it is. The 29-year-old prides himself on his durability, and he’s only played in 94 games so far this season. If he’s unable to return for the remaining slate, he will end up missing the most games in any season of his career. His rookie season in 2016 was cut short after 97 games when he tore ligaments in his thumb at the end of July. Since then, he has played in at least 142 games each year (and 59 of 60 games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season).

Between missing games and scuffling through slumps, it’s been a frustrating season for Story. After the lockout interrupted free agency, he signed with the Red Sox during spring training, and then had to leave camp shortly after his arrival to be with his wife for the birth of their child. As a result, Story only had about a week of spring training, hardly sufficient time to prepare for the upcoming season with a new team, in a new league, all while learning a new position.

Under the circumstances, Story’s slow start was hardly surprising. He spent the month of April playing catch-up, struggling to the tune of a .224 average and .596 OPS in the opening month of the season. He showed signs of breaking out with a power surge in May, but his overall numbers never recovered from his early-season woes before his first trip to the IL halted his progress.

While his first season in Boston will be viewed as a disappointment based on the expectations of his lucrative contract and his previous seasons, there are some positives to take away from this year. Despite missing significant time, Story’s 16 home runs still rank second on the team and he leads the club with 13 stolen bases. He’s also fourth on the team with 66 RBI. Had he stayed healthy for anything close to a full season, a 20/20 season with 100+ RBI was well within reach. He also provided Gold Glove-caliber defense at second base, a position he had never played before in the majors. The low average and strikeout numbers aren’t ideal, but they don’t tell the full story of Story’s value to his new team when he was healthy.

Story lasted only 13 games between trips to the injured list, but he hit .340 with a .889 OPS in that stretch from late August to mid-September. He was on his way to finishing the season on a positive note before the heel injury spoiled those plans.

If Story’s season is indeed over, his .238/.303/.434 slash line will be the worst of his career. He’s understandably eager to be given any chance to improve upon those numbers. A week of games at the end of a losing season might not seem important, but finishing the year strong could do wonders for his confidence level and belief that a bounce-back season is coming next year. It’s been a rough year for the prized free-agent acquisition but he’s not ready for the first chapter of his Sox career to end just yet.

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