When Colorado Rockies rookie shortstop Trevor Story went down with a thumb injury in early August, his team was a dark-horse candidate for a National League Wild Card spot. The Rockies were 4 1/2 games out in the race — more competitive that late in the season than they had been in years.
But on Aug. 2, the team announced Story would have surgery to fix the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb and likely miss the rest of the season, which he did. The Rockies sunk in the standings shortly thereafter, with Story’s injury and a woeful bullpen as the root causes.
Story set the NL shortstop rookie record for home runs in 2016. He hit 27 round trippers in 97 games. He also had 72 RBIs, batted .272 and slugged .567. Story finished three home runs behind Nomar Garciaparra, who hit 30 home runs in 1997, for the MLB rookie shortstop home run record.
Story is healthy now — he said he’s felt 100 percent for two months — and ready for his sophomore season. Over the weekend, the 24-year-old Irving, Texas, native sat down with Denverite to discuss his rookie season, the team’s offseason moves and Cowboys fandom.
Denverite: So, I want to ask you something very important. How did you take the Cowboys’ loss (to the Packers) in the divisional round?
Story: “That’s a great question. I didn’t take it good at all. It was a tough week for me. Especially because I saw the next game was a blowout. I was depressed for about a day.”
Denverite: I watched the game, and you couldn’t even do anything about Aaron Rodgers. He was just that good.
Story: “He’s unbelievable. He was flaming hot when they came in. You just hope you can stop him one or two times. But they had the ball last, so I was afraid of that.”
Denverite: Coming out of the gate last year, I think you hit seven home runs in seven games. Some guys get off to those really hot starts, and then later that season they’re back in the minors. How were you able to sustain it?
Story: “For me, I just relied on my offseason work, my preparation and leaned on my guys. Nolan (Arenado), D.J. (LeMahieu), CarGo (Carlos Gonzalez) — those guys are awesome and helped me out a lot. And they’ll continue to help me out in the next couple years. Those are the guys I lean on. Those guys and my hard work. I just feel like that’s the formula to keep it going.”
Denverite: I think when you got hurt, you guys were 4 1/2 games out. How difficult was it to get hurt at that specific juncture of the season, when you guys were right there?
Story: “It was tough just because we were playing so well as a team. Pitching was clicking, offense was clicking. We were on a little win streak, too. We felt we could make our move right there. That was the toughest part of it for me, that I couldn’t be out there to help my team for the rest of the season. It just gave me incentive for the next year.”
Denverite: What has this last year been like for you? How has your life changed?
Story: “It’s definitely changed. It’s just been such a blessing to have the success. But at the same time, nothing’s really changed. I just keep working as hard as I usually do. Obviously, there are different things that come into play when you’re known a little bit. But it’s been great.”
Denverite: I know you’ve talked about it a little already today, but what do you think of the infield you guys have assembled? You’ve got Ian Desmond at first, D.J. (LeMahieu) at second, you at shortstop and Nolan (Arenado) at third.
Story: “Yeah it’s pretty crazy. Like I said, I think Nolan is the best player in the game. I get to watch him every day, and I don’t think anyone’s on his level. D.J., he’s won the batting championship last year and is a Gold Glover. Ian has been an All-Star. I think our infield is one of the best in the game.”
Denverite: What are your expectations for what this team can be this year? Jeff (Bridich) and the front office had an aggressive offseason and added some talent. What do you think?
Story: “It’s exciting. I was saying earlier that we have a very confident group of guys already. But to add veteran guys who are really good at what they do is added confidence. It’s just very exciting to get together with these guys and go out there and win.”
Denverite: Is making the playoffs something you guys talked about in the offseason?
Story: “It’s definitely a goal of ours. And that’s not the only goal either. We talk back and forth — me and Nolan, and me and D.J., and me and Chatty (Tyler Chatwood) about where we want to be, and that’s ultimately winning the whole thing. We get excited talking about that stuff. We’re ready to get to spring training.”
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