Story thinks he'll return in '23; Kiké eager to fill void

January 22nd, 2023

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- It has been 11 days since Trevor Story had an internal bracing procedure on his right elbow that put his 2023 season in jeopardy.

However, Story is highly confident there will be numbers on the back of his baseball card for the upcoming season, his second with the Red Sox. When asked Saturday at Red Sox Winter Weekend if he would play this season, Story said, “Oh yeah. In my mind, yes."

For Story, the toughest part of the injury was the timing. He was ramping up to be Boston’s starting shortstop following the departure of Xander Bogaerts in free agency when he felt a sensation in his right elbow he had never experienced before.

“I was starting to put more on [the throws] and get ready for the season, and just felt a little different in this instance,” Story said. “I just felt a little more tingly feeling, and you know, obviously that’s not something that should happen so I immediately just kind of stopped for a bit and thought I would go get it checked out.

“Ended up being a situation where surgery is a possibility, and that's the route we went. So it’s obviously not ideal or something that you ever wanted to happen, especially in the offseason, but you know, this is where we're at, and that's kind of how we're gonna attack it -- the best way we can.”

During the opening event of Winter Weekend on Friday, Story told fans that he would miss "a little bit of the season.”

What did he mean by a little bit?

“Yeah, it’s tough to say. I think it’s too early for a timetable, 11 days out of surgery,” said Story. “A lot of that kind of depends on the way we’re progressing this whole rehab process.”

If the Red Sox can get even a half a season of Story, it could make a big difference for their postseason hopes.

“I like to be positive and optimistic and I think we're gonna get Trevor back at some point in the middle of season,” said Kiké Hernández. “And if we get a healthy Trevor Story, he’s a game-changer. He's a catalyst.”

At this point, the plan is for Hernández to take over shortstop -- at least until Story gets back in action.

Though Hernández has started just 64 games at short in his career, he is eager to at last get the chance to play his “favorite” position on a full-time basis.

“I feel really excited,” said Hernández. “I feel great about it. I mentioned it before, I’ve kind of been waiting my whole life to be able to play short at the Major League level on a daily basis. I grew up playing the position. It’s my favorite position to play, and unfortunately, the rosters that I've been on, pretty much the best player on the team has been the shortstop.

“It's funny: I signed on this team to play second base and ended up playing center. And then I signed an extension to play center and now I’ll play short. I'm really excited and looking forward to the challenge.”

If Story indeed returns this season, there’s a chance he will remain at second base -- the position he played in 2022 -- to ease the initial burden on his surgically-repaired elbow.

Story also didn’t rule out returning to the team initially as a DH if that allows him to get back in action faster. Justin Turner is currently slotted in at DH, though he will also get some action at first base.

“I've DH’d a little bit before, but not on a substantial basis,” said Story. “But I think, again, it’s too early to kind of tell on that. I'm certainly open to that option. I think we've got to kind of see how things go when it comes time to make that decision.”

The one thing Story isn’t going to do is skip any steps in his quest to get back on the field.

“I feel good about this,” said Story. “I feel good about how I’m going to attack this with the team. We have all of our therapy guys, and I know we’re going to do the best job that we can. It'll be something I'm really looking forward to. We’re going to do it the right way. We’re not going to cut any corners.”