Amid scrutiny over ankle, Correa confident in health routine

February 17th, 2023

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Perhaps no single joint in professional athletics was the subject of more scrutiny and speculation over the course of the offseason than ’s right ankle, about which reported concerns on the part of both the Giants and Mets eventually cost him seven years and $150 million worth of guarantees.

After Correa ultimately ended up with the six-year, $200 million deal that brought him back to Minnesota, he insisted that the ankle has felt completely fine since he underwent surgery as a High-A player in 2014 and that he was surprised that it impacted the nature of his free agency to the extent that it did.

Upon his arrival to Twins camp for his first day of Spring Training on Friday, Correa did acknowledge that his long-term health is always on his mind, with a corresponding hour-long routine for his longevity that he has developed over the years -- but he feels that routine has worked well for him, and it won’t change in response to the tumult of the offseason.

“Obviously, you think about it,” Correa said. “There's no need to lie. You think about it. I've been playing for eight years since I had the surgery. I haven't had any problems. So I'm just going to keep doing the same things that I've been doing. I take really good care of my body. I will plan on doing that for the rest of my career, until the day that I decide to retire.”

Correa has never spent time on the injured list for an ankle issue as a professional, which leads him to be confident in the routine that emphasizes flexibility and maintenance of his whole body over strength once the season starts.

During the season, Correa works for 40 minutes to an hour every day, he said, including on off-days, with a routine that incorporates work on the chest, shoulders, back, hamstrings, quads and core. He doesn’t do heavy lifting at all once the season starts, hoping to avoid the soreness and additional strain on his body.

“When the season hits, I don’t need to get stronger,” Correa said. “I just need to be healthy. I just need to post every single day. I’d rather be flexible and not as strong but be able to post for 150 games than be the strongest guy in the league and only be able to play 80 games. It’s a good balance that a player’s got to have.”

It hasn’t always been that way for him, but his physical priorities have matured as he has also matured as a player and person. Earlier in his career, Correa said he would show up to the cage and immediately take 100-150 full-effort swings without so much as warming up and stretching, which led to unnecessary issues.

After starting to communicate more often with doctors, Correa said he took more of an interest in the functionality of his body and the emphasis on mobility and flexibility that required, and he developed his routine accordingly.

“Learning through experience throughout the entire process, something bad had to happen for me to understand what it takes to post and be healthy,” Correa said. “I’m glad I found out when I was 24, 25 years old. It was still early enough for me to be able to make the right and necessary adjustments.”

Beyond that, Correa spoke often about avoiding unnecessary risks and strain on his body during his first season with the Twins, so much so that the mentality stuck with fellow star Byron Buxton. The center fielder has credited Correa with helping him better understand the importance of that level of caution.

“This is no disrespect to anyone else who’s in that clubhouse, but [Correa’s] among the best I’ve ever seen in terms of preparing himself, taking care of himself, influencing others to take care of themselves in a way that is special and different,” president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said at Correa’s introductory press conference. “That’s all part of the equation here, in a way that factored in as part of the dialogue that ultimately got us to that agreement that we think works.”

The Twins saw firsthand how carefully Correa manages his body, and that’s part of what gave them the confidence to bring him back in the longer term. On Friday, Correa pulled back that curtain a bit on what gives him confidence in his health -- and the care he takes to preserve it.