Story staying productive during his DL stint

September 13th, 2016

PHOENIX -- Rockies injured rookie shortstop was thankful for Monday Night Football.

His left thumb, surgically repaired six weeks ago, doesn't allow him to do much. So after lunch, he showed up at Chase Field Monday, the way he does every day, and does a lower-body strengthening and endurance program. He loves hitting, but since he can't he's doing the next-best thing -- watching, during batting practice, and watching during the game.

He hopes his watching will be productive enough to improve his swing when he is allowed to play again. But that time between the workout and when other people are swinging bats, Story admits, is just soul-crushingly boring. At least Monday, he could rib teammates about their fantasy football players during the Steelers-Redskins game.

"Usually around 3 o'clock I get in the weight room," Story said. "But after my workout, there isn't much to do. Just waiting around until BP. But then I get my hand cleaned, watch BP and get ready for the game."

But Story, 23, has found gametime to be not so tedious. He's finding enjoyment in observation.

Story was leading the National League with 27 home runs -- already a record for an NL rookie shortstop and three shy of Nomar Garciaparra's MLB rookie mark -- when he suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in the thumb on July 30. The homers came in bunches, with seven in his first six games, and six in seven games in July.

With the homers and the solid .272 average, however, came strikeouts -- 130, which going into Monday tied him for 13th in the NL, in 97 games. He hit .284 in June and .288 July and trimmed strikeouts those months to 28 and 26. But watching other hitters, he figures, can help him put more balls in play.

So at-bats by are must-see events. Last year, Arenado tied for the NL lead with 42 homers while striking out on 16.5 percent of his at-bats. He entered Monday tied with the Cubs' for tops in the league with 37, and had lowered his strikeouts to 13.7 percent. Story, who fanned in 31.3 percent of his at-bats, is taking note.

"One time at home, he was facing somebody nasty -- I can't remember who it was -- and he threw some really tough sliders, really good pitcher's pitches at the bottom of the zone," Story said. "But he just took them like he knew they were coming. It's cool to watch that kind of hitter. I don't miss any of his at-bats, and we watch video and talk about it. He doesn't give in to the pitcher's plan."

Story said he watches other hitters, as well.

"I'll watch [Arizona's Paul] Goldschmidt, every one of his at-bats, and see if I can pick up something from his timing and mechanics," Story said. "I want to pick up things from any hitter, on our team or their team."

But Story hopes he will soon be doing some swinging of his own, in preparation for next year. Story said he hopes to settle soon on an off-season rental home in Scottsdale, Ariz., where the Rockies have their Spring Training facility.

"Hopefully, at the eight-week mark I can grab a bat, but that's just me talking," he said. "I'll start swinging when I can, maybe it's mid-October or November, for a week or two, then take some time and pick it up in December."