Don't sleep on the impact Trevor Story can make for the Red Sox


Former Red Sox Matt Strahm airs it out (again)

The list of potential reinforcements is long for the Red Sox.

Near the top of the list is Chris Sale, who threw a successful bullpen session Tuesday. It was the same day Garrett Whitlock also tossed a baseball without pain. And John Schreiber appears to be close to a return. All three representing the kind of impact that already adds optimism heading through the Trade Deadline.

And then there is Trevor Story.

Prior to the Red Sox' 3-0 loss to the A's (for a complete recap, click here), Alex Cora announced Story would be making his return to game action for the first time since his elbow surgery, appearing for Double-A Portland Friday.

The plan is for Story to play five innings at shortstop in that first game, come back and serve as a designated hitter the following day before returning to shortstop for five more frames Sunday.

Of all the returnees, Story should offer the most intrigue.

Let's start with the way the game is currently being played and how it lends itself to the kind of player Story has always been.

Pressure. Pressure. Pressure. It has helped the Red Sox. And, when defensive issues have arisen, it has bitten Cora's club. But it is also undeniable that if you have a player who can put heat on the opposition - such as Jarren Duran - it will go a long way.

That's where Story comes in.

Since 2018, the infielder has been one of the most efficient baserunners in the game, succeeding on 81 percent of his attempts. Last we saw him, Story was successful in all 13 of his stolen base tries in a Red Sox uniform.

"I’m looking forward to getting out there and kind of taking advantage of what is going on," he told the 'Baseball Isn't Boring' podcast. "Stolen bases are way up and that is a big part of this game. That’s a big part of my game, so I’m really looking forward to testing to the waters out there."

Trevor Story talks return

This season, when the Red Sox have notched at least one stolen base their record is a striking 28-14. They have also been thrown out just 14 times in 77 attempts, the seventh-best stolen base percentage in the majors.

Then there is the flip side of how business is being done - being able to function defensively.

While Story found himself bordering on Gold Glove-level play at second base in 2022, it is shortstop where he made his bones and will be counted on going forward. And while recent years cast a bit of doubt that this should be his primary landing spot, it's hard to ignore what Story was just a few years ago before the arm troubles cropped up.

In 2019, Story was elite at shortstop, totaling the third-most defensive runs saved in all of baseball - only trailing Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor. That year he also turned the second-most double plays in MLB, while managing the third-most assists.

As the Red Sox have discovered both before and after the presence of players like Pablo Reyes and Yu Chang, the shortstop spot has never been more important.

Now the Red Sox are banking on Story to highlight that reality in the manner they brought him aboard for.

"I just truly believe I can still do it (play shortstop) at a high level," said Story, who saw the Red Sox go 51-43 in games he played last season. "If I didn’t, I would stay over at second. I really do know I have a lot of good years in me over there at short. I’m not ready to jump off that position when I feel I can do it at a high level."

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