DENVER -- Rockies rookie shortstop Trevor Story is making it look easy. But it isn't. Never was, not for Story."He's a grinder," said Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt. "He's one of those guys who goes to work every day and looks for a way to get better. He has never
DENVER -- Rockies rookie shortstop Trevor Story is making it look easy. But it isn't. Never was, not for Story.
"He's a grinder," said Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt. "He's one of those guys who goes to work every day and looks for a way to get better. He has never shortchanged himself one bit."
The approach is paying off. Story's name is suddenly being thrown around in the same sentence with the likes of Willie Mays, Mark McGwire and Carlos Delgado.
Story's two home runs allowed a sellout crowd of 49,360 at Coors Field to take something positive home out of an 11-6 loss to the Padres in the Rockies' home opener. He also tied a Major League record set by Mays in 1971 and equaled by McGwire in 1998, Nelson Cruz in 2011 and Chris Davis in 2013 with home runs in each of the first four games of a season.
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Only Story is different. He has done it in the first four games of his big league career. And what's more, with a fourth-inning home run Friday off Padres starter Colin Rea and a ninth-inning homer off reliever Ryan Buchter, Story has six home runs in those four games. That is the quickest any rookie has ever reached six homers.
That's four games quicker than Dino Restelli, who took 10 games to hit his first six home runs for the 1949 Pirates, including his first two off Hall of Famer Warren Spahn in the second game of his career, and two more seven days later off another Hall of Famer, Robin Roberts. And it is five games faster than Delgado with the Blue Jays in 1994.
"He should be very proud of it," said McGwire, now the Padres' hitting coach and an observer to the display on Friday afternoon. "Enjoy it. Embrace it, with the understanding that there is a long six months of the season left. He looks like he is here to stay."
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Rest assured, Story, 23, understands. He may have been the 45th player selected in the 2011 Draft out of Irving (Texas) High School, and he may have annually had his named listed among Colorado's prime prospects. All of this, however, did not come easy for Story.
Story did, after all, hit only six home runs in his 47-game debut with Rookie-level Casper in 2011, and had only 64 combined in four full seasons in the Minor Leagues, capped by a personal-best 20 last year. He even had to return to high Class A Modesto in 2014 after spending the '13 season with that same affiliate, struggling to hit .233 while striking out 183 times and hitting 12 home runs.
The word was Story suddenly tried to pull every pitch. Nobody will talk about why, not even him.
What Story will say is that the challenges along the way, like 2013, are a catalyst to today.
"That's what makes this so gratifying," Story said. "The ups and downs. It's not all great [times]. It makes this very special."
Story's swing is so calm and seemingly easy. Then comes an explosion at the time of contact. There goes the ball. Some to right field, most times to left.
"He has thunder hands," said Vinny Castilla, a special assistant with the Rockies whose 320 home runs are the most for a Mexican-born player. "He looks smooth and then his hands are so violent. They are all legitimate shots."
Only the two on Friday, after all, came at Coors Field. The first four were hit at Chase Field in Arizona, where Colorado opened the season.
"There's nothing cheap about any of the ones he has hit," said Rockies coach Rene Lachemann, whose firsthand references stem from 53 years in a professional baseball uniform. "That's why I've started calling him Roy."
Roy, as in Roy Hobbs, the Natural?
"No," said Lachemann, whose coaching resume includes time in Oakland, where he witnessed firsthand the Bash Brothers: McGwire and Jose Canseco. "No, ROY as in Rookie of the Year."
It is a long way from Friday to the Oct. 2 end of the regular season, and there will be highs and lows that Story is going to face, but he has provided himself with positive reinforcement that he can play at the big league level, and he's making an impression on the opposition.
"It gets harder," said Padres outfielder Matt Kemp, "but he has a great swing and has great upside. Hopefully he's going to be in this league a long time doing great things. He even made a great play at shortstop, too. Defense and can hit. That's dangerous. We got to watch out for that guy."
Story can appreciate hearing that. It is something he has worked hard to attain.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.