Off to hot start, Correa has room to grow
Rookie shortstop hits two doubles, scores two runs in finale vs. Yankees
HOUSTON -- Many may find it preposterous, but Carlos Correa is still learning Major League Baseball.
"I watch him closely and I'm also paid to push him," said manager A.J. Hinch after the Astros' 3-1 win on Sunday. "There are things that we can do to continue to notch him forward and get him on the fast track to learning the big leagues. I know it doesn't look like he needs much encouragement, but he's got a great source of people around him that are pushing him to be great."
A day after he made three consecutive highlight-reel defensive plays to retire the Yankees in the fifth inning and was a triple shy of the cycle, Correa rocketed two doubles and scored two of the Astros' three runs in the series finale.
The first double, a towering shot to left-center field off a slider from Yankees starter Michael Pineda, fell between outfielders Garrett Jones and Brett Gardner. Correa tracked the play as Gardner fumbled the ball and slipped in the outfield, allowing him to score.
"I just kept running," Correa said. "Really exhausted, but it was really fun to be able to tie the game. I was watching the ball the whole time; when it dropped, I just put my head down and just ran all the way. I can move a little bit, even though I'm tall."
The second double, on Pineda's second pitch of the seventh inning, went into the left-field corner. Correa went to third on a sacrifice bunt from Jose Altuve and came home on Evan Gattis' club-leading third triple of the season to break a 1-1 tie.
"I think he's going to be a star," Gattis said after the game.
He's not alone.
Through his first 20 games, Correa's the only Houston starter hitting over .300. He's the first shortstop since 1914 to record nine doubles in his first 20 games. He's one of only three players in franchise history to reach safely in 18 of their first 20 games -- joining Rusty Staub, George Springer and Jeff Bagwell.
"I'm seeing the ball well, feeling good, being confident out there," Correa said. "When you're hitting with a great lineup, you just feel comfortable. I've got Altuve hitting behind me, Springer hitting in front of me, so it's a great lineup where you feel comfortable hitting."
Many are already touting Correa for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, though when told of such speculation after Sunday's game, Correa assured reporters that talk doesn't impact him.
What he's accomplished thus far, however, has his manager thrilled.
"His take-off of his career has been about as picture perfect as you can ask," Hinch said.