Story making the grade at second
Slugger getting more comfortable in Boston
Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story was a powerhitting shortstop over six Major League seasons with the Colorado Rockies before coming to Boston.
Story displayed that aspect of his game with a breakthrough performance in Thursday night’s 12-6 mauling of the Seattle Mariners in the first of four at Fenway Park. Story began building toward that moment in the previous series with the Houston Astros before upending the Seattle pitching staff.
Story went 4-for-5 with a career-high five runs, three home runs, seven RBI and a stolen base. He became the second Red Sox player to have five runs, three homers, seven RBI and a steal in a game and first since Yoenis Cespedes at Colorado on August 21, 2015.
“I think that was my best performance with the Red Sox so far,” said Story in the Red Sox clubhouse prior to Friday night’s tilt with the Mariners.
“A lot of work had gone into it. A lot of behind-thescenes stuff and all that kind of work came out and now we want to ride that out. I felt great and obviously it kind of feels great when the hard work pays off a little bit with each game.
“We know that over 162 we are working on the right things and the right stuff to be prepare for the game.”
Story knew when he came to Boston that there was no place for him on the left side of the Red Sox infield. Even with an impressive resume on that side in the National League, Story was not going to supplant
Xander Bogaerts at shortstop or third baseman Rafael Devers.
“It was a little bit different being on that side of second base and playing second but I have gotten more comfortable each and every game,” said Story. “I am definitely more confident than I was in the beginning, but there is definitely room for improvement.”
Story had played at second base occasionally in the minor leagues. He knew playing on the right side was his gateway to the starting nine in manager Alex Cora’s lineup.
“There are going to be plays he’s never seen before and he might have struggled in the beginning on some reaction things,” said
Cora. “But as far as making the routine plays and moving in the shift and throwing the ball, he has been really good for us.”
The Red Sox went into Game 2 with the Mariners ranked second in MLB in both defensive runs saved (19) and ultimate zone rating (7.1). Devers is second among qualified third baseman with a .982 fielding percentage. Story made it his mission to get on the same page with Bogaerts, Devers and first baseman Bobby Dalbec.
“We take a lot of pride in our defense and we put a lot of work into it,” said Story. “We are out there early and taking ground balls all the time and that was a big thing I did in the past.
“Right when I stepped in, I knew that was something they took a lot of pride in and it is a really good group.”
Right hander Michael Wacha returned to the rotation for Game 2 against the Mariners. Wacha was reinstated from the 15-day injured list after recovering from left intercostal irritation. Wacha was 3-0 in five starts over 26.0 innings with a with a 1.38 ERA, 19 strikeouts and 11 walks before going on the IL on May 8.
“Obviously he hasn’t pitched in a while, but we feel comfortable with him,” said Cora.
To make room for Wacha on the active roster, the Red Sox designated RHP relief pitcher Ryan Brasier to Triple A Worcester. Brasier pitched the ninth inning against the Mariners on Thursday night and allowed a run. Brasier leads the club with 18 appearances with a 6.28 ERA.
“He (Brasier) mixes up his pitchers with the fastball up in the zone and works in the slider,” said Cora. “In the end, he knows he has to get better and he will.
“He is a guy that at one point he will come back and help us win.”
Kiké leads the way
Center fielder Kiké Hernandez has been in the leadoff spot in his last 11 starts despite batting a woeful .177 in 35 games as the Red Sox place setter. Hernandez has batted leadoff in 142 of his 165 starts and currently is rated second among center fielders in defensive runs saved with 16.
“He’s been better and he is still not hitting the ball hard, especially in the strike zone, he’s getting under it,” said Cora. “One thing about him is he likes a challenge and somebody has to lead off.
“He did it last year and he did an outstanding job with us.”