Toro makes MLB debut; Correa targets return

Club's No. 6 prospect provides infield depth with veterans out

August 23rd, 2019

HOUSTON -- Speaking to the media for the first time since he left the Astros’ game Monday with a stiff lower back, shortstop said Thursday he believes he’ll be back on the field within the next couple of weeks and be a driving force in Houston’s quest for a second World Series title in three years.

That’s terrific news for the Astros, who last year saw Correa miss six weeks with lower-back soreness and then come back and be ineffective down the stretch and in the playoffs. Correa said an MRI on his back showed no structural damage. He hopes to play as soon as possible after his 10-day stint on the injured list is over next week but will first need a short Minor League rehab stint.

“I was playing great baseball,” he said. “When I’m healthy, I feel like I help my team a lot. When you look at the shortstops in the league, when I’m healthy, I put up the best numbers out there. So, obviously, it’s frustrating not to be able to perform and be healthy and help the team. At the same time, I’ve been here before. I can’t let this affect me, especially mentally.

“We keep moving forward and focus on the recovery process, which this time is not going to be too long, hopefully.”

With Correa and infielder on the injured list, the, the Astros on Thursday summoned switch-hitting infielder -- their No. 6 prospect, per MLB Pipeline -- from Triple-A Round Rock. The Astros designated for assignment Triple-A pitcher to make room for Toro on the 40-man roster.

Toro started at third base against the Tigers on Thursday and went 0-for-4 at the plate with three groundouts and one fly ball.

“He can play third, can play first, and give those guys a day off, and also he’s been one of our best offensive producers at the Minor League level for months now,” Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow said of Toro.

Toro, who was hitting .424/.506/.606 in his first 16 games at Triple-A, is a third baseman but can play first base. With Toro at third base Thursday, moved to shortstop, where he played in college. A fifth-round Draft pick in 2016, Toro spent most of the season at Double-A Corpus Christi and slashed .306/.393/.513 with 16 homers and 70 RBIs.

“This team is unreal,” said Toro, who hit his first Triple-A homer Wednesday at Memphis. “They’re in first place and so many great guys here. I feel honored to get the call here in the big leagues.”

Astros manager AJ Hinch said the opportunity for everyday at-bats for Toro is real.

“He’s really put himself at the map with the way he’s made some adjustments and the at-bat quality he’s had,” he said. “It’s somewhat of a surprise for him, and maybe other that he’s going to get the opportunity. He dominated Double-A and got a little taste of Triple-A. He brings a nice presence to the bottom of our order, being a switch-hitter. We’ll get him up and running.”

Correa said his back locked up before the game Monday and he tried to play through it since second baseman was out of the lineup with a scheduled day off. Correa said couldn’t move when Miguel Cabrera hit a ground ball past him in top of the first and he couldn’t swing the bat like he wanted while striking out in the bottom of the inning. shifted to shortstop to start the second inning, and Altuve entered the game at second base.

“It was not pain; it was a lot of tightness,” Correa said. “I couldn’t bend over, and now I feel a lot better. I feel like I can play soon, but I’m on the 10-day [injured list], and I have to take it step by step with my history from last year. I’m very optimistic, very happy with the way I woke up today. And, hopefully, in 10 days, I’m ready to rejoin the team.”