In home debut, Correa HRs for fans, family
HOUSTON -- Carlos Correa, the 20-year-old who made his Major League debut for the Astros on Monday in Chicago, made his Minute Maid Park debut on Friday when the Astros faced Cy Young contender Felix Hernandez and the Mariners. In his second at-bat of the 10-0 victory, the 2012 No. 1 overall pick launched a solo homer to right, his second big-league blast, to announce his arrival.
With about 30 family members and friends on hand, Correa launched an elevated, 2-0 fastball from Joe Beimel into the bullpen for his first home run in Minute Maid Park, sending the packed crowd of 32,173 to their feet and Correa sprinting around the bases.
"I was just so excited that I don't know how fast I was running," Correa said after the game. "It's just hard to explain. It's just something you feel, your family up there, you be able to hit a home run and be able to point at them, like you guys are here to watch it, they really appreciate it, I know they really appreciate it. I'm just going out there to try to help the team win games."
Before the game, all eyes were focused on Correa. First there was infield practice. Six television cameras focused their lenses on Correa, who ranged to his right to field a grounder before sliding over to second base to shag a few.
Next was batting practice. He ran to the dugout, cameras following his every move. He took two drinks of water. He rubbed down his bat. He embraced special assistants to the general manager Enos Cabell and Craig Biggio. More cameras joined the mob.
Finally, it was time to take his hacks. A bunt was followed by seven swings, all of which produced solid contact and dazzled a larger than usual fan presence that lined both baselines, stood behind the plate and packed the Crawford Boxes to witness Correa's Minute Maid Park debut.
"It's more than I expected," Correa said in a pregame press conference alongside Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow. "You expect a lot, many things in the big leagues but it falls short when you get here."
Correa, who notched his first Major League hit against White Sox ace Chris Sale in his second Major League at-bat and his first home run a day later, had no reservations about facing Hernandez.
In three games vs. the White Sox, Correa went 4-for-12 with homer, double, three RBIs and three strikeouts -- though the Astros were swept.
The focus Friday was more on what he hadn't achieved.
"My first win," Correa said as Luhnow cracked a smile. "That's what I'm looking for tonight. To get that first win will be the greatest accomplishment."
He looked, and he got it, launching the solo homer in the second to highlight an offensive onslaught that crushed six Mariners pitchers and forced Seattle to throw backup catcher Jesus Sucre on the mound in the eighth.
After mentioning his admiration of retired Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Correa said the one player he's looked forward to playing alongside and learning from was teammate and infield partner Jose Altuve.
Altuve, whose locker is next to Correa's, said his arrival has sparked a renewed energy in the clubhouse. The 20-year-old has left quite an impression on the three-year veteran and defending batting champ.
"Amazing," Altuve said after Friday's game."That kid is amazing. You don't see too many 20-year-old guys hitting the ball into the bullpen at this field. Great kid."
A young fan caught Correa's ball in the seats just above the bullpen and returned it to the shortstop.
Good thing, too.
"My dad is building like his own museum so he has all my stuff since I'm a little kid since I got to pro ball and all my first home runs and every league and all this stuff," Correa said. "He's definitely going to want to keep that one."