scorecardresearch Skip to main content
tara sullivan

Trevor Story’s time with the Red Sox has seemed like one frustration after another

Trevor Story is able to do glove work while his throwing arm heals, but no one knows how many games he'll be able to play this year.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The veteran Red Sox players who stayed behind in Fort Myers rather than take the long bus ride to a game in Jupiter were inside JetBlue Stadium for batting practice Tuesday morning, and the early group that included Justin Turner, Alex Verdugo, and Masataka Yoshida quickly captured the attention of manager Alex Cora and plenty of additional coaches.

As groups gathered behind the batting cage, conversations followed each round of swings, including one between Turner and Verdugo in which they animatedly compared the way they stepped into the ball.

It was just the kind of getting-to-know-you banter Turner said he’d been looking forward to since joining the Sox as a free agent, and it represented a typical spring training scene playing out from Florida to Arizona as teams get ready for the season.


It’s exactly where Trevor Story would have loved to be, if only his body would allow it.

Instead, the Red Sox’ biggest free agent signing of the past two years is on the inside looking out, limited mostly to a training room since having surgery on his elbow Jan. 9. For the man who signed a six-year, $140 million contract a year ago, the man whose spring experience a year ago was a whirlwind of post-lockout negotiations, vaccination delays, and a late arrival to Fenway South followed by an almost immediate return to Texas for the birth of his first child, 2023 was supposed to be different.

But when last season’s derailment by a wrist injury (limiting the normally durable Story to 94 games) was followed by the offseason announcement that he needed elbow surgery, Story didn’t get his happy ending. Now, he stands inside a clubhouse far different from the one he joined a year ago, with Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez gone via free agency, Turner and Yoshida arriving to offset their losses, and him stuck watching it all.


“My body and my mind are telling me it’s baseball season, that it’s time to be playing and getting at-bats and doing my thing,” Story said after breakfast Tuesday. “But I’m just trying to use that energy into the rehab, trying to repurpose it. As cliché as it is, I’m locked in on every day. I go in there at 10 a.m. to do my stuff, and that’s my game for the day. Just nailing down what I can.”

It’s important to note that Story is very much around, at his locker from the early-morning hours, on an agility field doing glove work, always available for teammates who want to check in and chat. But when it comes to the real action, he knows it will take everything to break the right way for him to play at all this season, with a recovery road that could be as short as four months (a potential May return) or as long as 10 (which would mean missing the entire season). That’s not so easy a pill to swallow.

An injured Story takes some ground balls Tuesday as he works to get back on the field.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

“I was just talking to him yesterday,” said Christian Arroyo, whose spring locker sits next to Story’s. “We were talking about hitting and I was asking him what he was doing before he got the surgery, what he was focusing on, and I just said it to him: ‘You had a weird year.’ I said, ‘How would you evaluate your year?’ And he said, ‘You know, I know I’m way better than what I played.’ ”


When the chance to rewrite that story line was abruptly interrupted by the news that Story had undergone internal brace surgery on his right elbow after experiencing discomfort, there was definitely some shock. And while that has mostly worn off, the reverberations on the Sox lineup and defensive alignment continue to affect the team’s 2023 plans.

Kiké Hernández is now the everyday shortstop and new addition Adam Duvall is slated to start in center field. Neither player has completed a full defensive season at those positions. Story was the domino whose fall set off a chain reaction. As tenuous as this roster is in the attempted journey out of last season’s last-place finish, the absence of Story is huge.

“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “It’s always tough to feel that way, but like we’ve said, our guys are super versatile.”

For now, Story has to remain single-minded, working his rehab until the end of camp, when only then can a decision be made whether to head back to Boston with the team to continue treatment or stay in Florida where it might be easier.

“It’ll be more of a game-time decision when camp breaks depending on where I’m at with the progression,” he said. “I know it means a lot to me to be around the team and be with the team and I know some of the guys have expressed that, too. But at the end of the day, I’ve got to be where I’m getting the best work.”


Tara Sullivan is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at Follow her @Globe_Tara.