The Red Sox’ $140-million commitment to Trevor Story didn’t pay dividends this year.
Story was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left heel contusion before the Sox began their four-game set with the Yankees on Thursday.
The move is retroactive to Sept. 19, which means he could conceivably return in time for the final two series of the season, although Story hasn’t exactly been a quick healer of injuries this season.
The Sox thought he’d return quickly from a hand injury on July 12, but he ended up missing more than six weeks. After returning on Aug. 27, he played in just 13 games before he got hurt again on Sept. 11, slipping on first base and injuring his heel.
If this is the end of his first season in Boston, Story will finish with just 94 games played, the fewest of his career, aside from the pandemic-shortened year in 2020.
He was a late signing in spring training and took forever to get comfortable at the plate and on defense, where the former shortstop struggled to learn second base. He finally got going in early May and strung together a 15-game stretch in which he hit nine homers with 27 RBI.
Since then, he’s hit just seven homers with 29 RBI in 55 games, though he did become exceptionally good at second base and turned into one of the Sox’ better defensive players. There’s been a lot of speculation that he could move back to shortstop next year if the Sox chose not to retain Xander Bogaerts, though they could benefit from Story at second base when the shift is eliminated and defensive range becomes more important.
Over 94 games this year, Story has hit .238 with a .737 OPS.
Bobby Dalbec was recalled to take Story’s place on the active roster.
The 27-year-old was hitting just .211 with a .644 OPS and 11 homers in 111 games before his demotion to Worcester at the start of September. Down in the minors, Dalbec found his stroke and hit .250 with an .864 OPS to go with five homers and eight RBI in 13 games.
The Sox now have a plethora of first base options, with Triston Casas likely to get the lion’s share of at-bats, Christian Arroyo getting some playing time and Yu Chang also an option.
Chang was in the lineup at second base while Casas was playing first base for the Sox on Thursday.
All eyes will be on Aaron Judge, who entered Thursday with 60 home runs, one shy of Roger Maris for the American League single season record.
Judge hit two homers against the Sox on Sept. 13 but was kept homerless on Sept. 14.
The free agent-to-be created a stir with his comments about the Red Sox last week, when he said they have some of the best fans in baseball and he loves playing at Fenway Park. And while the Sox did intentionally walk him once during their last series, manager Alex Cora told reporters in the Bronx that the Sox wouldn’t shy away from pitching to Judge.
“At one point he’s going to hit (No. 61), so we’re going to attack him the same way we’ve done the whole season,” Cora told reporters.
“We’ll attack them and then the game will dictate what we do. I know probably if we walk him, I’ll get booed here. It’s not going to be the first time. It’s not going to be the last time, hopefully. But we’ll go and see what happens.”
Cora added, “And we’re trying to win games. We know where we’re at. It’s still Yankees-Red Sox and you come here — I didn’t come here for vacation over the weekend. … I’m not at the palace just to hang out. I’m here to put these guys in situations to be successful and we’re going to go about it the way we always do.”
Bogaerts and Judge will be fighting off each other for a shot at the batting title, with both entering the series tied for the lead with a .317 average.
Judge has never hit higher than .287, though Bogaerts’ career high is .320 in 2015.
With Judge chasing history, MLB has ensured all four games will be nationally televised.
Thursday’s game was broadcasted on Fox while Friday’s game can be seen on Apple TV+, Saturday’s game can be seen on MLB Network nationally as well as NESN locally, and Sunday’s game will be broadcasted on ESPN.