SCOTTSDALE – Rockies shortstop Trevor Story is only 26. He is about to embark on his fourth big-league season.
Don’t be fooled, though.
He’s old, beyond his years.
“He is,” said veteran Ian Desmond, “old school.”
Desmond should know. He’s “old school” himself. He’s a guy who keeps the Rockies focused.
And Story is growing into that role, too.
“It’s natural,” Desmond said of the evolution of the players who assume leadership roles. “It’s just in you. He’s that type of guy for us.”
Manager Bud Black has been witness to the last two years of the evolution, and it has been impressive.
"He is much more confident in the clubhouse," said Black. "He is more vocal. He is mor comfortable around me. He will come up to me and share what is on his mind. ... In conversations it's about `us' and 'we.'"
Unstated is that for Story it's not about "me."
This isn’t about who is the best player on the team, although Story has performed at an elite level.
n His 88 career home runs are the most by a shortstop in his first three big-league seasons in MLB history.
n --A year ago, he became the first shortstop in MLB history to have at least 40 doubles, 30 home runs and 25 stolen bases.
n He was awarded the Silver Slugger as the best offensive shortstop in the NL in 2018 and was a first-time All-Star, where he debuted with a home run in his first at-bat.
This is about the who has that personality that they can set an example with the way they go abut their business. They are the guys who in good times enjoy the ride, but when there are challenges on the field or in the clubhouse, they don’t waiver.
"In my mind he wants to be the guy," said Black. "You can aspire to be it, but that does not mean it happens. It's an everyday thing for hours and years. It's taking responsbility. He's comfortable with that.:
It has been a steady evolution for Story, who stepped to the front in that leadership type role last year.
“He laid low the first few years, molding into the person he is going to be the rest of his career,” said Desmond. “He has earned the respect of the people around him, the players, the coaches.”
And, it should be added, the media.
Big deal? Yes. It takes a special makeup to handle that type of responsibility. It takes a player who doesn’t hide when times are bad. Not every team has that type of player, but winning teams do. It’s a respect they earn, not assume. It usually comes from an elder statesman.
“So many of the kids now, I don’t know if it’s the hype, they get here and feel they have 10 years in the league,” said Desmond. “They have hats on backwards.”
As Desmond said, “it’s natural” for Story.
“You can’t force being a leader,” Story said. “The more you are around and with guys who have experience, the more confident you become.
“In high school, teammates migrate to the better players and follow their lead,” said Story. “It’s how I’ve done it. It’s not something you look for, but I want to be part of that. I want to lead. I want to win.”
It was mentioned to Story that a player once wondered how Hal McRae and the late Don Baylor became such impactful team leaders because, the player explained, he wanted to be like them. The player was told if he asked, it wasn’t possible because it isn’t something that is sought. It is a role that evolves.
“It should come naturally,” said Story. “Guys do it different ways. It’s personal how you can lead.”
But the impact isn’t. It’s about being the guy who keeps focused on what’s ahead. It’s about being the guy who doesn’t have emotional highs and lows based off whether he had a big night or a bad night on the field.
It’s about being like Story.
“One strength you have to have is you have to be even-keeled,” said Story. “One of the things I admire about (Derek) Jeter from what I hear and from talking to other guys, is he was always the same, no matter what happened that day or the day before.
“I have always been even-keel. That helps a lot. I get that from my dad (a former fireman). He knows how to perform under pressure. You can’t be too emotional.”
It is a lesson that Story has learned well.