Posted on September 3, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
After more than six weeks on the DL, Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is back. The Astros activated Correa from the DL prior to Sunday’s series finale against the Mets. Correa’s return represents a huge piece of the puzzle back in place for the Astros.
“It feels great,” Correa said about his return. “I’m really excited. It feels like Opening Day all over again for me, so I’m really excited to go back out there and compete.”
Correa originally hurt his thumb while sliding into home plate in early July. He later aggravated the thumb on a swing. The Astros placed him on the DL on July 18 with the hope that he would be fully recovered in time for the stretch run and the postseason. A little more than six weeks and six minor league rehab games later, Correa is back.
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“I was driven,” Correa said. “I wanted to be with my team as soon as possible, be able to help some way. It was super boring being in the clubhouse every single day just rehabbing and not doing anything. But, at the end of the day, I was driven to be back as soon as I could. The doctor said eight weeks, and I was trying to get back in five or six weeks. Right now, it’s six weeks and I’m happy to be back.”
Prior to the injury, Correa was hitting .320 with an OPS of .966. He already has 20 home runs on the season and needs just three more to set a new career high. If not for the time away, Correa likely would have figured into the discussion for American League MVP.
Super utility man Marwin Gonzalez and third baseman Alex Bregman filled in for Correa at shortstop while he was out. Bregman, a natural shortstop, can now resume his duties as Houston’s everyday third baseman. Gonzalez, who’s in the midst of an outstanding offensive season, will continue to float around the diamond, spelling players at a number of positions.
In 42 games without Correa, the Astros posted a 20-22 record. Part of that may be due to the Astros showing complacency after establishing such a substantial lead atop the AL West. Some of it may also be due to injuries to the team’s starting rotation. However, part of Houston’s sub-.500 record over the past six weeks is no doubt tied to Correa’s absence.
“I feel like we’ve added so much to our team by adding Correa back,” says Astros manager A.J. Hinch. “We’ve missed him. We’ve missed his presence, we’ve missed his bat in the middle of the order, we’ve missed his consistency.”
With Correa back, the Astros are nearing full strength health wise. Lance McCullers Jr. and Evan Gattis remain on the DL, but nearly every other key player is on the active roster. The Astros also added Justin Verlander and Cameron Maybin over the last week. With those new additions and the return of Correa, the Astros may be reinvigorated down the stretch. Over the final month of the season, the Astros need to hold off the Indians for the best record in the American League and build momentum heading into the postseason.
“As we start to get our team back together, there’s a sense of energy that’s reaffirmed on our team,” says Hinch. “It started a few weeks back when (Dallas) Keuchel (came) back — and now we’re going to get Correa back. Now we’ve got Verlander and Maybin. The arrow is pointing in the right direction when you get your better players back.”