You know, for a midweek game in August against an abysmal Kansas City Royals team, the energy around Fenway was pretty strong. At least at the beginning of the game.
Trevor Story made his long-awaited return to the Red Sox lineup last night against Kansas City. Story’s return couldn’t have come at a better time, with the Red Sox looking to bounce back from the seeming death of the season in a sweep at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays. Story shores up the middle infield for the Sox, bringing some long-needed stability to a part of the team that has seen so much poor performance over the season, only Pablo Reyes has a positive WAR out of all of the main second base/shortstop options used this season (unless we’re counting Justin Turner).
At a point where every game is feeling more and more important, the result of this game almost took a back seat to the headline of Story’s return (even though it spelled the end of the yellow jersey dominance the Sox have shown). So, how’d he do?
Trevor Story’s return to the Red Sox didn't go great, but at least he's back
Coming into the game, I was excited for two things: 1) Story batting third in the lineup, and 2) the fact that he started at shortstop. I assumed, in an effort to get Story back up to game speed, that Cora would start Story at second base or even DH, but seeing him at short makes it seem like the surgery and rehab went all according to plan, and that Story is ready to be the shortstop of the Boston Red Sox (or Yellow Sox, it’s all jersey-dependent).
Also, Story got a huge cheer from the crowd as he made his way up to the plate for his first at-bat of the game, and that’s great to see Red Sox fans unified behind something for this team, at a time when there’s a lot of division surrounding Chaim Bloom, Alex Cora, ownership, really just about anything you can think of for this team. However, that was pretty much the highlight of Story’s night.
Story didn’t really offer much to appease Red Sox fans. He struck out pretty poorly in both of his first two at-bats, had a weak ground out to Bobby Witt Jr. in his third at-bat, and completed the hat-trick of strikeouts in the eighth. It’s clear that he needs to retrain his eye to get used to MLB-level pitching again after his successful rehab stint in Worcester. Story’s timing is off, which he needs to recalibrate fast to help this team.
In the field, Story didn’t really have much to do. He did well to catch a high throw from Connor Wong on a stolen base in the first inning and had a nice diving stop and throw to first in the seventh inning, but that’s about it.
It feels like he’s still holding back just a little bit from going all out, which is understandable for his first game of the season. Based on that one throw in the seventh, it seems like the elbow is feeling good for him, but it’s a small sample size looking at just a couple of plays in the field.
Overall, there’s just a lack of cleanliness to his movement right now that will come back with more time back in the lineup. Of course, his debut didn’t give us any sort of big moment that really screamed “Trevor Story is back, and he’ll lead the Sox to the playoffs!” but I think that would’ve been asking too much of him. Story coming in against Kansas City and Detroit for the rest of this week is good timing, it should set up well for Story to slowly work his way back to game speed. To be selfish, though, he needs to get up to speed fast for the Sox to have any chance come the end of September.