Story makes small but necessary step toward return to Red Sox

March 10th, 2023

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When Trevor Story was finally granted access to the great outdoors during Thursday’s workout at Fenway South and got to field ground balls, he felt like a baseball player again.

While it was a small but necessary marker in Story’s quest to rejoin his Red Sox during the second half of the season, it is one he soaked in for a few moments. In fact, he was still savoring it a day later.

“It’s huge,” Story said during his Friday lunch break. “You get to that point where you feel like just a rehabber. To get out in the field and take ground balls and feel more like a baseball player is really good, something I've been looking forward to. It's something small in the grand scheme of things, but in the progression it's big. It was a good day yesterday.”

Given Story’s importance to the Red Sox offensively, defensively and on the bases, every sign of progress he makes from the internal bracing procedure he had on the UCL ligament in his right elbow is important. Story fielded his first grounders two months after his surgery.

“It gives you hope,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “If he’s not thinking about [playing] this year, then why take ground balls so soon? He wants to be a baseball player, just like everybody else. He’s engaged and he’s excited. To take that step, it means a lot. That’s a good first step.”

For a rehabbing baseball player, there is a balance in trying to feel like part of the team while making sure not to get in people’s way. Story has done as good a job of this as possible. He has remained visible to his teammates in the clubhouse and in other areas of Fenway South, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“Everything is inside. [Rehabbing] is just a grind,” said Cora. “He’s been involved in meetings and talking to players and all that, which is great and expected, because that’s who he is. Now that he’s able to go out there, it makes his days a little bit more fun instead of [just going to the] gym and weight room and all that stuff.”

How does Story spend a typical day at Spring Training as he mends from the most significant injury of his career? It all starts in the batting cage. Without a bat.

“I show up, have breakfast and I spend like the first 30-45 minutes of my day in the cage, just staying around the game, staying around hitting and talking shop with the guys in there,” said Story. “And that's probably my favorite part of the day.”

Once the Red Sox get ready to stretch, Story attacks a list of monotonous tasks that will get him back on the field as soon as possible.

“I go into the training room and start all my strengthening stuff just so we have the training room while we're not in the way of guys getting ready to play the game,” said Story. “I spend an hour and a half there.  And then I have a little lunch, and then [I] do sprints and do all my weight room stuff. Then, a baseball activity. So it makes for a long day, but all of it's very necessary.”

Story showed up at camp a week early so he could get a handle on his schedule and figure out how the balance would work between rehab and finding the time to be a teammate.

“I see myself as a leader, and I think to do that by example and to be here and to be present and to have the guys see me … it probably helps me more than these guys seeing me, but you just feel like you're still part of the team,” said Story.

The one team that Story can’t be part of this month is Team USA for the World Baseball Classic. And he admits that pains him. Story was the second player to commit to the team, after Mike Trout.

“It’s tough, man, I can’t lie about that,” Story said. “That’s one of the things I wanted to do for a lot of my career. Hopefully I can play in the next one. But it sucks, seeing everyone getting ready, going to their respective teams, getting ready to participate in this thing, because I know how special it is to represent your country. I’ve got some serious FOMO. But I’ll definitely be tuned in watching everybody.”

For Story, the best part of 2023 will be when he is performing instead of watching.