UPDATE: Rockies manager Bud Black told reporters on Tuesday evening that the team is not overly concerned about Story’s injury, and that while he has some inflammation in his elbow, the ligament does not appear to be damaged:
“We got pretty good [test] results this afternoon, just moments ago. There’s some inflammation and a little bit of soreness around the joint but the ligament seems to be fine.” -Bud Black with the latest on Trevor Story’s injury pic.twitter.com/krAzKguHxz— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) September 19, 2018
Rockies shortstop Trevor Story is “facing potential damage” to the ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow, according to a report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, with the extent of the damage not yet known:
#Rockies’ Trevor Story facing potential UCL damage in right elbow, sources tell The Athletic. Exact diagnosis not yet known.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) September 18, 2018
This comes after Story exited Monday night’s loss to the Dodgers with right elbow soreness. Obviously, if the injury is extremely serious and one that he’s unable to play through, Tommy John surgery could end up being a potential remedy, though that discussion won’t be had until there’s a clearer picture of how much damage he’s dealing with.
Story has been an impactful power hitter since his debut in 2016, but he’s taken his production to the next level this season and is right up there with Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, Matt Carpenter, Javier Baez, Paul Goldschmidt, Eugenio Suarez, and teammate Nolan Arenado as a potential NL MVP candidate. He ranks sixth in the National League in OPS (.894), tied for fourth in homers (33), second in RBI (102), and fifth in stolen bases (26). He hasn’t exactly been a wizard in the field, but with an even defensive runs saved rating and a UZR/150 of -1.2 over 1,304.2 innings at the position this year, he’s been eminently playable at the most difficult position on the infield.
The loss of Story would obviously be a huge negative for the Rockies, who are currently a half-game out of both the NL West lead and the second NL Wild Card spot. Pat Valaika, who has a miserable .442 OPS this season, immediately replaced Story on Monday night and could be a candidate to see time at that position down the stretch. Ian Desmond, a former everyday shortstop who has played just three games at short over the last three years, later moved to short on Monday and could be an option there if the Rockies are comfortable with his defense, as Matt Holliday and Ryan McMahon could assume the at-bats at first base. Rookie Garrett Hampson, who has posted an impressive .805 OPS over his first 29 big-league plate appearances, also could see some time at shortstop.
If Story should ultimately end up having Tommy John, he’d be the second NL West shortstop to do so this year, and that’d be an extremely odd occurrence considering that the operation is performed on pitchers so much more frequently than it is on position players. Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager’s season came to an end in late April when he opted to undergo the procedure.