While Trevor Story initially had planned to continue his rehab assignment with Triple A Worcester through Wednesday, the shortstop sat down Monday with the Red Sox and changed course. The Sox will activate Story — out all season while rehabbing from a January internal brace procedure on his right elbow — Tuesday.
“It’s time to go,” said Story. “I feel like I’m ready to compete.”
Story hit .300/.417/.700 with four homers over 13 rehab games split between Double A Portland and Worcester. While he noted that the 17-day minor league assignment was more compressed than spring training, his ability to recover from back-to-back days at short, and to make a full array of throws and plays, convinced him he was ready for big league competition.
Still, he’d initially felt it made more sense to stay with the WooSox for two more games while trying to prepare for everyday duty. However, Story and the team decided Monday he’ll play every other day this week, while building toward more frequent playing time.
“It’s kind of smart to do the every other day thing right now,” Story said before the Sox played the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. “I can push the back-to-back to the next week, which gives me a little more time to adapt to that and also get in there and get in the lineup quicker.”
Shortstop has been a black hole for the Sox. Prior to Monday night’s 6-2 win over the Royals, the seven players— Kiké Hernández, Yu Chang, Pablo Reyes, David Hamilton, Christian Arroyo, Bobby Dalbec, and Enmanuel Valdez — who have played the position had posted a combined .207 average (29th in MLB), .276 OBP (28th), and .329 slugging mark (27th) while their defense graded as 10 runs below average (28th).
Even with the expectation that Story may face some bumps in trying to regain his timing, the Sox see anticipate a multifarious upgrade.
“His presence means a lot,” manager Alex Cora said. “The bat means a lot. The baserunning part of it means a lot. And if you remember him playing shortstop [with the Rockies through 2021], he was elite.”
For Story, there is an eagerness to contribute. But more fundamentally, there is relief in a return to the field at the highest level of competition.
“It means everything to me. My biggest passion in life is playing baseball,” he said. “When you can’t do it for 10 months, it weighs on you a little bit. So just really excited to jump in this race, being back with the guys, and helping.”
Sale in line to start Friday
Cora said Chris Sale, out since early June with a stress reaction in his left shoulder, likely will start Friday against the Tigers. Sale (5-2, 4.58 ERA in 11 starts) pitched 4⅓ scoreless innings Sunday with seven strikeouts in his second rehab appearance for Worcester.
“He looked like Chris Sale,” Story said.
Righthander Garrett Whitlock (4-3, 5.23 ERA in 10 starts) is scheduled to go on a rehab assignment with the WooSox, with plans for him to pitch three innings Wednesday. If that goes well, the Sox would activate him Sunday for a return in a multi-innings relief role.
Tanner Houck (3-6, 5.05 ERA), who is being stretched out as a starter on his rehab assignment, will make a second appearance Thursday with Worcester. Cora said it’s possible Houck, out since suffering facial fractures when he was hit by a line drive in mid-June, could be activated following that outing, but he also acknowledged the righthander could need one or two additional outings before joining the rotation.
“We got some reinforcements coming,” Story said.
Lamet up from Worcester
The Red Sox added righthander Dinelson Lamet from Worcester. Lamet, who finished fourth in National League Cy Young balloting in 2020, had a 3.72 ERA with 16 strikeouts and seven walks in 19⅓ innings with the WooSox. He signed a minor league deal with the Sox after being released by the Rockies in June.
“I’m very happy for this new opportunity with a new team, and of course I’m looking forward to pitching out there,” Lamet said through a translator. “I worked with [Triple A pitching coach Paul Abbott] on my slider to be more consistent and also on my location, the fastball location. Those were the main things that I worked on in Triple A.”
To clear a 40-man roster spot for Lamet, the Sox designated lefthander Richard Bleier for assignment. Bleier, acquired from the Marlins last offseason in exchange for fellow reliever Matt Barnes, had a 5.28 ERA and 12 percent strikeout rate in 30⅔ innings.
“Just didn’t work,” Cora said.
Teel moves up quickly
First-round draft pick Kyle Teel was promoted by the Red Sox to High A Greenville.
The catching standout from the University of Virginia went 3-for-5 with a homer and walk in his brief assignment in the Florida Complex League. Teel is the first top Red Sox pick to be assigned to High A in the same year he was drafted since 2004, when second-rounder Dustin Pedroia made an unforgettable impression with High A Sarasota.
McLaughlin calls for change
With the Red Sox amidst a four-game losing streak and a stretch of losses in seven of eight contests, clubhouse manager Tommy McLaughlin set out to alter the team’s fortunes through fashion. “Tommy made the right call right away,” Cora said. “In case of emergency, wear yellow.” After McLaughlin made the call, the Sox improved to 22-4 in the yellow City Connect uniforms, including a 7-0 record this season … With lefthander Cole Ragans on the mound for Kansas City, both Jarren Duran and Alex Verdugo were out of the lineup. Verdugo flied out as a pinch hitter for Rob Refsnyder and finished the game in right field … Cora said it remains to be seen whether Corey Kluber (shoulder) pitches again this year.