Red Sox provide encouraging update on Trevor Story's recovery

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages

Trevor Story's elbow surgery was deflating news for a Boston Red Sox team enduring a rocky offseason, dampening the mood surrounding the club and further lowering expectations. Story underwent a successful internal bracing procedure of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in January. The timeline for his recovery was unclear. Story's arm was burdened by a bulky brace that made him look like a futuristic cyborg and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom refused to commit to the star infielder returning to the field in 2023.

Two months later, we finally received a shred of optimism that Story is working his way back in time to contribute to the upcoming season.

Red Sox infielder Trevor Story is making encouraging progress

Manager Alex Cora revealed on Friday that Story has started taking ground balls, a promising sign that he's intent on suiting up for the Red Sox at some point this season, per's Ian Browne.

"Trevor, he started taking grounders yesterday," said Cora. "He’s doing it again today with Mondy. That’s good. It gives you hope. If he’s not thinking about this year, then why take groundballs so soon?"

"Mondy" is Adalberto Mondesí, a versatile infielder who is recovering from ACL surgery. He's expected to open the season on the injured list but his timeline is well ahead of Story's. Assuming he fully recovers from the knee injury, Mondesí can be an asset to the Red Sox with his speed and defensive skills.

While we could see Mondesí by May if his recovery goes according to plan, Story is expected to open the season on the 60-day injured list. That would allow the Red Sox to open a spot on the 40-man roster, creating some flexibility as they narrow down their choices for the Opening Day roster, but it also ensures that Story will be unavailable for at least the first two months of the season. It's very likely his absence extends beyond that.

But he might not be sidelined as long as we thought, at least for those who weren't counting on seeing Story take the field at all in 2023. As Cora said, why would Story bother taking ground balls during spring training if he wasn't preparing to play this year? If nothing else, it's good for his mindset. We want Story to be eyeing a return. While the Red Sox certainly won't rush him, it's encouraging to see that he's working hard on his recovery. Story is a veteran on this team locked up to a lucrative long-term deal, so it's important for his teammates to see him working.

Trevor Story's first season in Boston was labeled a dud based on the expectations of his contract, although much of the blame for his subpar production was out of his control. He signed late in the offseason due to the lockout and left camp shortly after he arrived for the birth of his child. Story had very little time to prepare in camp last spring, leading to a dreadfully slow start at the plate.

He finally began to emerge from his early-season slumber with a power binge in May. During a two-week stretch from May 11-26, Story hit .286 with nine home runs and 25 RBI. That included a three-homer game against the Seattle Mariners. Story proved that the thin air in Colorado wasn't the only thing fueling his power production during his tenure with the Rockies.

His batting average was slowly trending upward as he found his rhythm at the plate, until Story was drilled on the hand by a pitch shortly before the All-Star break, knocking him out of action until the end of August.

Story returned from injury intent on making up for lost time, hitting .340 with a .889 OPS in his next 13 games. Then injury struck again, a nagging heel that would sideline him for the rest of the season. Story wanted to return for the last stretch of the schedule but with the Red Sox hopelessly out of contention, there was no reason to push him.

Despite being limited to 94 games by two stints on the injured list, Story still tied for second on the team with 16 home runs and led the Red Sox with 13 steals. He realistically could have produced a 25+ homer, 25+ steal season, perhaps even 30/30, if he stayed healthy. He already has a pair of 35/20 seasons on his resume and had a 20/20 season in his last year in Colorado. Story is still an excellent power/speed threat who seamlessly adapted to second base last year.

Unfortunately, we won't get to see that type of production this year with Story missing extended time as he recovers from elbow surgery. However, it's beginning to look more likely that we will see him on the field at some point in the second half of the season. If he can return in late July or early August, the Red Sox could view him as an upgrade similar to a trade deadline acquisition.

Story still has a long road ahead of him in his recovery but we'll welcome any positive news at this point. Hearing that he's already taking his glove out to the field gives us hope that Story can contribute toward a potential playoff push down the stretch.