This story is excerpted from Ian Browne’s Red Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full bulletin, Click here. AND subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
The start of the baseball season can bring out the most irrational thoughts.
This is especially true of players who sign with a big market team for the first time and have the gall to start slow at the plate.
The career shortstop, who moved to second base when he signed a six-year, $140 million deal with the Red Sox, got off to a brutal start.
That’s when the minds of some fans started to wander. Is he the next Carl Crawford? Was it Pablo Sandoval? Fans are always freaked out by moves that don’t work, which can lead them to jump to conclusions with the latest big acquisition.
Over the past week and so on, however, Story has soothed the Red Sox Nation with an impressive batting display that turned his meager start into a distant memory.
When Story arrived at Fenway Park to start the club’s final homestand, he was hitting 0.196 with a homer and an OPS of 0.561. Hot theories began to multiply: the story could not survive without Colorado’s thin air. Pressure from fans and the media had to be getting to him.
But it turns out Story just needed some time to adjust. And once he did, he became a devastating force, whose baton clearly throws at Fenway Park.
It all started on May 16, in the opener of the final round, when Story scored a game-tying homer that went over the Green Monster and everything else to lead his team to victory over the Astros. Three days later, Story crushed three homers to go with seven RBIs against the Mariners. The following night, he unloaded for a grand slam. In Sunday’s final against Seattle, Story scored again, giving him five in a four-game series against the Mariners and six for the homestand.
Would leaving the friendly comforts of the Green Monster hold back History? Apparently no. As the Red Sox began their brief three-game trip to Chicago on Tuesday, Story hit yet another homer as part of a four-night RBI.
From May 16 to May 24, Story had 11 hits — seven of them homers — in 31 hits. He scored 12 runs, had 18 RBIs and two stolen bases.
During those eight games, the Red Sox went 7-1.
There were some obvious reasons for Story’s downfall. He didn’t formally report to Spring Training until March 23. A few days after the report, he went home to witness the birth of his first child. On the first trip of the season, he got food poisoning. Also, when you spend your entire career elsewhere, there can be an adjustment period. Story was also learning a new position on defense.
It turns out that Story is exactly who the Red Sox thought he was.