Story's story one of dedication, determination

Rookie shortstop followed Tulowitzki growing up, later trained with All-Star

Story's story one of dedication, determination

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Trevor Story understands baseball magic -- especially Spring Training magic -- doesn't last.

Story, 23, is the Rockies' No. 11 prospect, and he will make his Major League debut as the Rockies' starting shortstop on Monday. His earning the right to be the first Rockies player to debut as an Opening Day starter since Jeff Baker in 2005 is only partly due to an eye-popping Cactus League performance (.378/.451/.911, six home runs).

Before Story showed up with the job open and claimed it, he had spent five seasons in the Minors proving he could handle baseball's ebbs and flows. Even as he pounded Cactus League pitching and handled defensive duties, Story maintained a reposing demeanor.

"I just try to stay as even-keeled as possible," Story said. "I have trust in my preparation. That'll bring me out of it. As long as I'm having good at-bats -- I could be 2-for-20, but as long as I'm having team at-bats -- I won't get too down about that."

Story's spring was so dominating that the notion he can bounce back is more theoretical than actual. But one game might have offered a preview.

Story on his strong spring

On Saturday, Story didn't take the extra step, anchored himself and committed to backhand the Rangers' Delino DeShields' first-inning leadoff grounder, which caromed off the heel of his glove for an error.

Story doubled off Rangers starter Martin Perez in the bottom of that inning, clubbed a solo homer in his next at-bat, and added a sixth-inning leadoff double.

Story's solo home run

"It's more about, especially with young players, can they control their surroundings?" Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Are they in control of the game? And Trevor certainly has shown a calmness to his game, whether it's taking a tough at-bat, or when the ball is hit to him, or when he's running the bases, the way he communicates on the field. I haven't seen the game speed up on him at all."

Story's cool has impressed Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu.

"Everyone struggles at some point," LeMahieu said. "From everything I've heard and everything I've seen, the way he carries himself, he's that guy that's going to keep getting back up."

Folks care about the intangibles, because Story has matured into a powerful athlete since being drafted 45th overall as a supplemental first-round pick in 2011 out of Irving (Texas) High School. When Weiss saw him report to his first big league camp last year, he wondered if Story's thickening body would allow him to stay a shortstop, but the fears didn't last long.

Story credits former Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Believing he'd grow into a bigger shortstop, Story grew up following Tulowitzki and Derek Jeter, and admitted awe when Tulowitzki texted him on Draft day. But when Tulowitzki invited him to train with him in Las Vegas before last Spring Training, Story approached as a studious pro.

Story and Tulowitzki, who was traded to the Blue Jays last summer, have batter's box mannerisms and gaits that are similar. Yet Tulowitzki's emotions burn beneath his eyeblack patches, while Story shows little expression behind his dishwater blonde beard, but it all adds up to both being no-nonsense players. Story left Vegas having adopted Tulowtizki's practice habits.

"We were practicing taking ground balls," Story said. "He was really intense, really low and firing the ball to first. He did it 10 times in a row. He said, 'You need to practice this, how you do it in the game. Do 10 game reps. That'll get you ready for the game better than 25 or 30 nonchalant groundballs and flipping it over.'"

Story's spectacular play

It appeared Story was blocked again, even with the Tulowitzki trade. The Rockies received veteran shortstop Jose Reyes, so Story was allowed to finish his season in Triple-A. Story hit .281 at Double-A New Britain and .277 at Triple-A Albuquerque, with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs at each stop. But Reyes is facing a domestic violence charge and a possible suspension from MLB, so the job was open this spring.

And if there are struggles, Story has been there. He hit .233 in 130 games at Class A Advanced Modesto in 2013 and had to repeat the level the following year. He also hit .200 at Double-A Tulsa in 56 games in 2014, which necessitated starting last season at the same level.

"In Modesto my first year, I'd never struggled like that -- it was tough, but I never once thought that I couldn't do this," Story said. "I was in there trying to figure it out more than the coaches were on me, trying to force me to figure it out. I came back the next year and did well. I struggled again in Double-A, but by then, I knew there was going to be a little learning curve.

"I have the confidence that I could make the adjustments necessary to succeed at every level."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.