MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Story still the man despite Reyes' potential return

Rockies rookie 'playing like an All-Star' during veteran's absence

Story still the man despite Reyes' potential return

DENVER -- Six months ago, Trevor Story was the Rockies' shortstop of the future.

Today?

Story is the Rockies' shortstop. No ifs, no ands and no buts about it.

General manager Jeff Bridich is naturally careful with what he says, but when he was asked about how Story's status could be influenced by a potential return of Jose Reyes sometime in June, Bridich was strong in his endorsement of the rookie.

"Trevor has done a great job," Bridich said. "He has earned the role he plays on this club. So, as it relates to this situation specifically with Reyes, [Story] has earned all the playing time he has gotten. I think he handled himself well when faced with these sorts of questions in Spring Training. We expect him to continue to be a pro and to handle the whole situation with class and the strength that he has thus far."

That's no knock on Reyes. He's a four-time All-Star and he won an NL batting title hitting .337 for the Marlins in 2011. Hey, he's making $22 million a year for this year -- minus the nearly $7.1 million he will lose for being suspended for the first 60 games of this season for domestic abuse.

Rockies react to Reyes suspension

Be honest. Reyes was acquired along with three top-line pitching prospects from the Blue Jays last July in the Troy Tulowitzki trade because Toronto wanted Colorado to assume his salary to offset the $100 million deal they inherited with Tulowitzki.

The Rockies saw Reyes, who turns 33 on June 11, as a short-term way to fill the shortstop void until Story was ready.

Necessity, created by Reyes' situation, opened the door for Story a year early. He walked right in and made himself at home in the big leagues.

Story has been one of the upbeat stories in baseball in the early going. He set a National League record for rookies with 10 home runs in April, matching the Major League record Jose Abreu of the White Sox set two years earlier. He became the first player in Major League history to hit seven home runs in the first six games of a season. He was the NL Player of the Week to begin the season and the NL Rookie of the Month for April.

Must C: Story ties rookie record

Story went into Friday night's game against the Mets batting .266, tied for third in the Majors with 11 home runs and fifth in the NL with 27 RBIs. And he would have had three more homers in the previous 21 seasons of Coors Field, but a few drives to right-center field were kept in play by a wall that is now 16 feet, 6 inches high.

Just as Story has calmly handled the challenges of the big leagues, he is unaffected about all the teeth-gnashing among the media on Friday about his status when Reyes does return.

"The way I've handled it is worrying about myself and controlling what I can do," Story said. "That's worked for me so far, so I don't see myself venturing from that."

Story has made believers among his teammates.

"I think Trevor has been playing like an All-Star," said right fielder Carlos Gonzalez. "He's going to be our shortstop for now."

Now, only time will tell what eventually happens to Reyes. He's suspended until the end of the month, although he can join the Rockies in extended spring training. On June 1, he can be sent on a rehab assignment to the Minor Leagues of up to 20 days, although it isn't likely he would be down on the farm that long.

After that, nobody knows. There have been teams kicking tires, but they aren't looking at picking up the complete $35 million Reyes is guaranteed for the remainder of this year and all of next year. And there is always the possibility the Rockies could keep him.

Reyes is, after all, still athletic. He is a switch-hitter. Other than 43 games at second base with the Mets in 2004, he has played only shortstop in the big leagues. Reyes does have good arm strength, so there's no reason to think he can't be versatile.

Reyes flashes the leather

And his teammates aren't concerned at all about his possible return.

"Jose is not a bad dude," said third baseman Nolan Arenado. "I liked him. He was nice. He treated me right when he was here. When he comes back, we're going to treat him right. We want to win, so we need him to be on board with us. He will when he comes back."

However, there is no question in the clubhouse as to the status of Story.

"Obviously," said Arenado, "we have our shortstop."

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.