Posted on September 27, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
As the Houston Astros play out the end of the regular season and prepare for the playoffs, they are keeping a close eye on shortstop Carlos Correa. The club has announced that Correa won’t play during the final series of the regular season against the Angels because of a lingering back problem. At the moment, the Astros are unsure but hopeful that Correa will back by the start of the ALDS, which begins a week from Friday.
Houston manager A.J. Hinch says Correa’s back stiffened up while the team was flying from Houston to Seattle on Monday. That caused him to be out of the lineup on Tuesday and Wednesday. Correa saw a doctor on Thursday that recommended additional rest. The club’s hope is that an extra week is enough for Correa to be ready for the postseason, although there is no guarantee that Correa will be 100% by that point or be able to compete in the playoffs without the issue popping up again.
This has been the third straight season that Correa has been hindered by injuries and not the first time his back has forced him to the sidelines. He missed over a month of action in 2018 due to lower back soreness. Correa also missed a large chunk of August and September this year because of back soreness. He only just returned from that stint on the Injured List on September 17.
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When he’s been healthy enough to play, Correa has had another productive year. He’ll end the 2019 regular season hitting .279 with an OPS of .926. Even in the three games that he’s played since coming back from the IL, Correa went 3 for 10, including a two-home-run game last week. Those will be Correa’s only three games ahead of the postseason since August 19. But the Astros don’t appear worried about their shortstop being rusty.
“We saw him come out of this with one rehab game and hit two home runs,” said Hinch. “He’s an excellent player. He’s a former All-Star. He’ll be just fine when we get him back there.”
The Astros are planning a pair of team workouts on Wednesday and Thursday next week to prepare for their first postseason game on Friday. Whether Correa will be in Friday’s lineup will depend on how whether he’s a full participant in those workouts and how his body responds to them.
“That’s going to be what we’re going to judge him on, but we expect him to be in the lineup next Friday,” says Hinch.
If Correa is unable to play Friday, the Astros will continue to have Alex Bregman handle shortstop. That will leave veteran utility man Aledmys Diaz and rookie Abraham Toro to share duties at third base. While Diaz has been productive in a part-time role this year and Toro has had his moments, the Astros would obviously prefer to have Correa at shortstop and Bregman back at third base.
At the moment, the Astros remain optimistic that Correa will be able to participate in the postseason. However, he’s played very little baseball over the past six weeks because of his back problem. Right now, it’s impossible to guarantee that Correa will be ready for the start of the ALDS and then able to remain healthy throughout October. Correa is a big part of Houston’s team and not having him for any postseason game would be damaging to the Astros and their championship hopes.