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Correa's ALCS approach: Rest now, rake later

Astros' ALDS sweep gives shortstop much-needed time off his feet
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- Astros shortstop Carlos Correa continues to play through back pain that has plagued him for the second half of the season and has led to a drop off in production at the plate. Correa has said for weeks he's going to have to manage the pain until he can fully rest his back at the end of the season, and he'll be in the lineup for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Red Sox on Saturday in Boston.

HOUSTON -- Astros shortstop Carlos Correa continues to play through back pain that has plagued him for the second half of the season and has led to a drop off in production at the plate. Correa has said for weeks he's going to have to manage the pain until he can fully rest his back at the end of the season, and he'll be in the lineup for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Red Sox on Saturday in Boston.

:: ALCS schedule and results ::

Correa was on the disabled list for six weeks with back discomfort and returned Aug. 10, hitting just .180 as the Astros roared through September and won the AL West title. He was hitless in his first two games in the AL Division Series sweep of the Indians before hitting a three-run homer in his final at-bat in Game 3 on Monday.

"I was feeling good the whole series," he said. "I was seeing pitches well. I was able to hit the homer and get a couple of walks that last game. Really good at-bats, I felt, and it obviously gives me a lot of confidence."

Astros manager AJ Hinch said Wednesday he wasn't concerned about Correa's health, but admitted late in the regular season the back injury had affected Correa's mechanics at the plate.

Still, Correa said Wednesday he was taking measures to manage the pain, including medicine and a foam roller he uses at home. He's been getting daily treatment from Astros medical personnel for weeks, but nothing can replace rest.

Gear up for the ALCS

That's what made the Astros' ALDS sweep of the Indians to crucial for the Astros, giving Correa four days of rest.

Video: HOU@CLE Gm3: Correa clubs a 3-run jack to right field

"The more days off we have, the more he's able to rest and get ready," Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow said Thursday. "Obviously, he had the big hit the other day, which is a positive sign. How he feels day to day, I can't really answer that. I know he's not 100 percent, but he's pretty darn close. And when he's out there under the lights, he's going to help us. There's no question.

"I'm sure the rest in the offseason will be welcome, but at this point we're focused exclusively on winning the rest of the games that we have in front of us. Carlos is going to be a part of it, and I'm sure he will work through whatever discomfort he has."

Worth noting
• The Astros are likely to reset their roster for the ALCS by adding a pitcher, giving them 13 position players and 12 pitchers. They carried 11 pitchers in the ALDS, but an extra pitcher is needed because Games 3, 4 and 5 of the ALCS will be played without a day off.

• In sweeping the Indians in convincing fashion, the Astros didn't use two relief pitchers -- Josh James and Tony Sipp -- and one starter -- Charlie Morton. Morton is likely to start one of the games in the best-of-seven ALCS, even if it's a four-game sweep.

Video: Hinch announces starters for first 2 ALCS games

• When it comes to bullpen composition for the ALCS, James, Joe Smith, Hector Rondon, Will Harris and Brad Peacock are battling for two spots. One spot will be created when a position player is removed. Harris was on the ALDS roster, but Smith, Rondon and Peacock weren't. Chris Devenski is a long shot to make the ALCS roster.

Video: Hinch discusses friendship with ALCS foe Cora

• Boston's two best offensive players -- Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez -- are right-handed, along with Xander Bogaerts, but there will be left-right platoons at first, second and third base. Sipp is the only lefty in the Astros' bullpen, so the reliever who is added will be a right-hander.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Carlos Correa