He is the crown jewel of the Astros rebuild. The #1 overall pick of the 2012 Draft, the very first draft selection made by Jeff Luhnow. His talent is undeniable and the shortstop draws comparisons to being his generation's Alex Rodriguez. A perennial popular preseason pick for league MVP. . . if only Carlos Correa could stay on the field.
Today, on March 26, 2019, on the final game of Spring Training, we learned that Correa, would be a late scratch due to a "stiff neck". It would be reasonable to think that holding him out of the meaningless exhibition game was just precuationary, except news soon followed that Correa was also questionable for the season opener.
After a down 2018, Correa had looked like a new man this spring. His swings were fluid. The exit velocities were high. In 39 at-bats, he slashed .333/.381/.538 with a home run and 5 doubles. Until this. Reportedly, he felt "a little uncomfortable" during a rundown on Friday, March 22. Manager A.J. Hinch, who is quick to dismiss reported injuries as minor, instead just says he won't play him until he's ready.
If Correa does miss the season opener and is forced to sit for multiple games, this will be the third year in a row where he misses time to due to injury.
In 2014, while still in the minors, Carlos' season ended early for High A Lancaster after suffering a fractured fibula during a slide into third base. This injury would increase his conscientiousness of his technique of sliding and popping up afterwards. Correa ended 2017 ALCS game 2 with a walk off double in which he popped up cleanly, though initially there was discussion whether his pop up interfered with Yankees' Didi Gregorius' throw home. It did not, and Correa defended his technique, and cited his 2014 sliding injury as a reason he wanted to make sure he popped up properly.
In 2017, Correa missed 42 games, after injuring a thumb ligament when he jammed his thumb against a catcher's shin guard during a slide home. This injury was similar to one Mike Trout had earlier in the season. Later that season, during the World Series run, he would re-injure the thumb during the celebration of the aforementioned ALCS game 2 walkoff. He would play through that injury with injections en route to Houston's first ever World Series victory.
In 2018, he would miss an early April game to rest a toe he had injured with a fouloff. But the story of Correa's down year was the back injury which landed him on the DL last year for 36 games. He never felt right after that, even after he returned. After smoking a ball early this spring, Correa admitted, "I don't think last year I ever hit a baseball like that after I got hurt. It feels good to be back, be healthy and be able to let it eat."
Is it fair to apply the "Injury-Prone" label to Correa? Or is it still too early to call that? What exactly constitutes being "injury-prone"? While the back issues might point in that direction, the fibular fracture and thumb ligament injuries don't seem like injuries you would just chalk up to being "injury-prone".
Or are they? Carlos plays the game hard. He lays out to stab a liner from going into left field... in a February spring training game. The fibular fracture and the thumb injury occurred on sliding plays... where Correa most certainly was pushing for every last bit he could earn. That kind of work ethic and hustle is to be admired, but does it predispose him to landing on the IL?
After last season's back injury, Correa announced this spring, he had learned a lot from that and took measures to prevent that from happening again, such as yoga. But here we are again, though this time it is his neck.
Or maybe baseball is just a tough game, and things like this happen to the best of them. After all, Trout isn't a player one would consider to be "injury-prone", yet the same thumb injury happened to him as well.
What are your thoughts? Is it fair or premature to apply a label of "Injury-Prone" to Carlos Correa.