Boston third baseman Rafael Devers, right, crushed two home runs during the West Coast trip, but his error on Saturday night was costly in a 2-1 loss to the Angels in Anaheim, California. Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

Home at last. The Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park on Tuesday, the latest home opener for any team in the major leagues. The Sox are 7-3 after a wildly successful road trip to open the season, making it just the third time in 29 years they have won seven or more games on a West Coast trip.

Pitching has been the big story of this early season success, despite the nine home runs the Red Sox hit over the weekend in Anaheim. Boston’s 1.49 ERA isn’t just the lowest in the majors, it’s the lowest ERA through 10 games by any team since 2005.

There was plenty to feel good about for the Red Sox, but there was also major concern in the wake of an injury to shortstop Trevor Story. He’s on the injured list now after suffering a dislocated shoulder and won’t be back for a while. Manager Alex Cora’s team won’t miss just his defense. They’ll miss his leadership. This was the guy who held “Story Camp” at his home in Texas this winter, bringing in young players to help them jell as a defensive unit.

“He’s a guy that very quietly has become the leader of this team,” said Cora. “He took ownership of what we’re trying to accomplish. He’s not going to stop. Hopefully he’ll be with us soon. That’s the tough part of this job. You try not to get attached to players, but they’re human beings.”

Story wasn’t just a leader in the clubhouse. His calmness on the field was contagious. But so was the uncertainty that came with his absence. Story was injured in the fourth inning of Friday’s game with the Red Sox leading 4-0. Two innings later Ceddanne Rafaela and Enmanuel Valdez committed errors on consecutive plays. Three batters later, the Angels’ Logan O’Hoppe hit a grand slam and the game was tied.

Just like that the Sox reverted back to the team that committed 102 errors last season, tied for most in the AL. They had only committed two errors through the first five games of this season, but have made six in the last five games. It’s a concerning trend.


No one will feel the absence of Story more than Rafael Devers. In his first official year of a 10-year, $313.5 million contract, Devers is leaned upon to be a leader on this team. He’s an emerging superstar in the game. Yet his 19 errors in 2023 tied Tigers shortstop Javier Baez for most in the league. He’s an elite hitter, and average defense would be enough from a guy who leads all of MLB in extra base hits since the start of 2019 with 335.

Yet he hasn’t been average. He had minus-9 “outs above average” in 2023, and is at minus-24 for his career. Play like that would lead many teams to move a player to the designated hitter spot but Masataka Yoshida, another negative outs-above-average guy, will be spending much of the season there.

The big question is how the Red Sox will fill the void left in the wake of Story’s injury. David Hamilton was called up from Triple-A Worcester to take his place, but he profiles as more of a second baseman than a shortstop.

That said, he made an immediate impact as the ninth hitter in the lineup Sunday, hitting the first of Boston’s three solo homers in the top half of the third inning.

“I know this is gonna sound weird but I don’t really like hitting home runs,” Hamilton told NESN’s Jahmai Webster before the game. “I’d rather just get some hits but home runs are cool, I guess.”

Two hours later he was circling the bases after his first major league homer. That probably was pretty cool, even if Hamilton didn’t like it.

Despite the loss of Story, the Sox are playing .700 baseball heading into Tuesday’s Fenway Park opener. It’s a surprising start for a team that was predicted to finish near the bottom of the American League this season. The pitching has led the way, but good pitching generally needs good defense to back it up. And Boston’s defense definitely took a turn for the worse in Anaheim.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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