After a historic start to his season, Trevor Story has cooled off as April has unfolded. An amazing start may have set unrealistic expectations in the minds of some, but no one in the Colorado Rockies organization seems the least bit worried about Story’s showing over the last seven games.
Since bursting onto the Major League Baseball scene with six homers and 11 RBI in his first four professional games, Story has just one homer and two RBI in the following seven games heading into Sunday’s matinee at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. Yes, the 23-year-old rookie phenom is human.
Colorado manager Walt Weiss has seen Story evolve from someone fighting for a roster spot in spring training to media darling and National League Player of the Week to a shortstop simply trying to find his groove. And all of that has happened in about a two-month span. Throughout the ups and downs, Weiss likes what he sees from Story every day.
“He takes BP (batting practice) the right way every day. He’s got a routine,” Weiss said. “He knows that the off gap (hitting ball to right-center) is where it’s at for him. He’s a pretty sharp kid. It’s not like he is enamored with the home runs. The home runs just happen because he puts good swings on the ball. You’re going to see him hit a lot of balls to right-center and use the big part of the field. That’s where he lives.”
Colorado fans got a glimpse of Story’s power to right-center in April 13’s home win over the San Francisco Giants. The only thing that kept either hit in the park was what Story jokingly called the “Bridich Barrier” after the game, referring to the new fences constructed in right-center field at Coors Field prior to the start of the season. What would’ve been home runs at Coors Field last season turned into two triples for Story.
“When teams bust him inside, you see him hit the balls into the seats in left field. I’m good with him hitting homers. He lives in the offgap though,” Weiss said. “The kid has it together. He’s handling everything that’s been presented to him as a young player in this league and he’s passing the tests with flying colors. He’s shown tremendous discipline to stay with his approach.”
Story knows that there are expectations for him after starting the season with such a power surge but he is working on staying with the course that brought him to the Majors.
“I just try to focus on my preparation. That’s my routine and what keeps me grounded and on track. I stay close to my routine,” Story said. “For me, I just try to hit the ball hard. If it gets in the air and goes out, that’s awesome. I hope they (Colorado fans) don’t think I’m going to hit one out every time because that’s not very realistic.”
Weiss knows Story will endure some growing pains as pitchers work to figure out the best areas to attack the shortstop at the plate. He also knows that Story will work to limit those weaknesses and continue to make pitchers pay for any mistakes they throw.
“I think we’ve seen a mix of a little bit of everything already,” Weiss said. “Because of the fast start, teams are trying to figure him out. I’ve seen him hit fastballs on the inner half out. I’ve seen him hit breaking balls down. He’s hit everything out. There’s going to continue to be that trial and error period for opposing teams and pitchers. So far, he’s made quick adjustments and shown he can handle all sides of the plate.”
Weiss also says there’s a side of Trevor Story that the shortstop has yet to show off.
“He runs very well. He’s a plus runner, which may surprise some people because he’s a pretty big kid, especially as a shortstop,” Weiss smiled.
Story isn’t worried about his start or any perceived slump he might’ve endured since then. He’s set high expectations for himself and learned that from the man who used to hold down his position at Coors Field … Troy Tulowitzki.
Tulo and Story spent time together prior to spring training in 2015 and the lessons learned there still carry over for Story today, on the field and at the plate. Some of Story’s mannerisms even resemble Tulowitzki’s, even though Story says that is purely coincidence.
“When you spend time with a guy like that who’s had that kind of success, things rub off on you. It’s a product of being around him,” Story said. “There are always things I think about when I get up there and everybody’s routine is different. It might look the same on the outside, but what we’re thinking on the inside could be very different. I’ve always incorporated deep breath into my routine.”
Story also said there’s an easy way to tell if he connected well on a swing or not.
“I do have a little bit of lift to my swing. Everybody swings different,” Story said. “When I get my best swing off, it’s a line drive or it’s in the air. If it’s on the ground, it’s not my best swing.”
Trevor Story and the Rockies fan base hope to continue to see a lot of hits off the ground in the coming weeks, months, and years. It will happen as Story’s game continues to evolve. After all, a few games does not a career make.