Hard-hit balls a sign of Correa's improved health

Shortstop feels good about his swing after back issues last season

March 2nd, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- How much better does Astros shortstop feel this spring compared to the second half of last year, when he battled lower back issues? The proof is in the numbers.

Correa, who was on the disabled list June 26-Aug. 10 last year because of his back, has been scalding the ball in his first few games of Grapefruit League play. Correa had an RBI double Friday in a 4-4 tie against the Cardinals at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. That follows a double Thursday against the Marlins that Correa said had an exit velocity of 113 mph.

Why’s that so significant? Correa said he never hit a ball harder than 105 mph last year after his back flared up on him.

“That made me feel good about where my body’s at right now and where my swing’s at,” he said. “It just feels great to be able to put the barrel on the baseball, and my back feels great.”

His first-inning double Friday against St. Louis was a shot down the left-field line after he turned on a John Gant breaking ball.

“Extending through a breaking ball like I did in my first at-bat and the one I hit in my last at-bat that just went foul, it just feels good to go through my swing and stay through a baseball,” he said.

Astros manager AJ Hinch said Correa’s body has been under control during his swing, with a good posture. Correa has been working with hitting coach Alex Cintron at controlling his hips and the lower half of his body. Seeing positive results during the game thrills Correa.

“I’m working on my legs and not going forward against the baseball, just staying coiled and behind the baseball,” Correa said.