The Boston Red Sox expected to pencil in Trevor Story at shortstop on a near-everyday basis this season.

Now, they are onto a backup plan.

Story is out for the season after having surgery on his injured shoulder, leaving the Red Sox with a gaping hole in the middle of their infield. Red Sox manager Alex Cora has primarily used Triple-A call-up David Hamilton in Story’s absence, but that move hasn’t yielded much success.

Former Red Sox third baseman and current NESN analyst Will Middlebrooks sees a different solution to Boston’s shortstop conundrum that he would pull the trigger on if he was in Cora’s shoes.

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“Since I’m not (the manager) and I can say this is an easy decision, (Ceddanne) Rafaela’s my shortstop,” Middlebrooks told “They have built this pitching staff and tinkered with not only mechanics, but pitch usage to be groundball pitchers. If that’s the case, you got to have your best player, your most athletic guy at shortstop.”

Rafaela is best known for his terrific defensive ability that helped him earn a spot on the Red Sox roster out of spring training. The 23-year-old, who just signed an eight-year contract extension with the Red Sox, showcased during his climb up Boston’s farm system that he’s more than capable of flashing his strong glove in center field and at shortstop

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But Cora seems hesitant to put Rafaela at short even though the Red Sox have a surplus of outfielders. Rafaela has started only one game at the crucial infield spot on the season — it came Monday against the Cleveland Guardians — and appeared in five games at second base.

“I think the hard part with moving Rafaela out of center field is his future is as a center fielder,” Middlebrooks said. “I think he has Gold Glove potential. I think over this eight-year contract, we see him win a couple of Gold Gloves.”

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But Middlebrooks believes taking Rafaela out of center and putting him on the infield dirt won’t hurt the youngster’s future Gold Glove potential.

“I can understand why people don’t want to take away from his development in a full year in the big leagues,” Middlebrooks said. “I don’t want to make this comparison because I don’t want it to be a comparison, but I think his tools and his body type are very Mookie-ish. I’m not comparing him to Mookie (Betts). Mookie is an MVP. Rafaela is not there yet. Long way to go. There’s hardly any dirt in his spikes at this point.

“But his tools and the way he moves and his versatility is very Mookie-ish. I feel like if he played every inning for the rest of the year at shortstop, you could throw him an outfield glove in spring training and he could go win a Gold Glove in center field next year.”

It seems for now Cora will stick with Rafaela in center field, where he will start his 14th game of the campaign Tuesday night. But it feels like the Red Sox need to make a defensive change at some point with Boston committing the most errors in all of baseball so far this season.

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And even when the Red Sox aren’t getting charged with an error, they are making costly misplays, like Hamilton did last week when he missed the second-base bag on a double-play attempt.

The effort from the Red Sox has been there, but the defensive execution is part of the reason why they have lost five out of their last seven games.

“They put the work in. I watch them everyday put in the work nonstop. They take more grounders and put in more work on the fundamentals than any team I’ve seen,” Middlebrooks said. “So, I can’t imagine how frustrating it is for them to know they’re doing everything right and as soon as the game starts, it seems to unravel.”

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images