2021 Colorado Rockies Spring Training certainly has a different look to it.
Gone are the familiar faces of Nolan Arenado, David Dahl, Tony Wolters and, at least for now, Ian Desmond.
But shortstop Trevor Story says, nonetheless, there is a good feeling among the group none and the guys in Scottsdale are off to a good start.
"It's a good vibe. Guys are excited to play ball," Story said in a Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday, February 23. "It is different and it's a little weird without David, without Noles, without Dez, Tony, a lot of guys that have been regulars here for a long time since I've been here. It's going to take some getting used to for sure but it opens up a lot of opportunities for some young guys. I think they're ready to step into that challenge."
The Rockies made the playoffs in 2017 and 2018. Then came struggles for the club in 2019 and 2020. Story fully understands why external expectations are at rock bottom.
"That's definitely the narrative right now with anybody that's not inside our room," Story admitted. "Losing Nolan is obviously going to hurt us. People are counting us out and I feel like when you count a group of competitors out like that at the Major League level, you instantly put a chip on their shoulder. That's the attitude we're coming in with. It's something we're going to embrace. We gotta play the game on the field. It's not played on paper."
Story, 28, is set to become a free agent after this season but that is not something he is currently dwelling on.
"There's no [contract] talks right now, just to get that out of the way," Story said. "I'm focused on being the best teammate I can be, being ready for each day here, trying to pour into the young guys. That's where my total focus is at."
At the same time, Story is well aware there are big decisions about his future looming.
"There's certain times that I'll talk about the business of baseball," Story acknowledged. "That's all part of the plan. And there's times where there's not a time to talk about it. As of now I literally do take it day-to-day. That's something I pride myself on. That's a good way to not get caught looking too far ahead."
Many have speculated that with Arenado's departure, Story would have little interest in signing a new contract with the Rockies. Story, however, says his situation is different from that of Arenado.
"It's a separate situation for sure. It's something that we're taking day-by-day. I try not to look too far ahead. I'm trying to be where my feet are which is right here in Spring Training with the Rockies. That's the way I'm looking at it and we'll see where it goes."
With some established players now gone, the Rockies will count on Story to be an even stronger leader than he has been in the past.
"Certainly I would like to be leaned on more," he said. "That's something that I want. That's something I'm going to embrace. I'm going to talk to the young guys and let them know I'm here for them. I want you guys to ask me any and all the questions you have, not that I know everything but people helped me along the way. It's only right to help those guys if I can."
The Rockies first Cactus League game is Sunday, February 28 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Story spoke on a wide variety of topics, some of which are below, followed by his full remarks and Tuesday's Zoom press conference with manager Bud Black.
Story on the low expectations.
Story on it being a different Spring Training with some familiar faces gone.
Story on his reaction to the Nolan Arenado trade.
Story on his situation being different than that of Arenado.
Story on his contract, impending free agency and the business of baseball.
Story on Ian Desmond's decision to opt out of the 2021 seasons for now.
Story on hoping his teammates see him as a leader.
Story on MLB Network naming him the best shortstop in the game.
Trevor Story full Zoom call.
Bud Black full Zoom call.
Colorado Rockies Spring Training on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Courtesy of Colorado Rockies)