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Correa feels 'great,' ready to go for ALDS

@brianmctaggart and @alysonfooter
October 4, 2019

HOUSTON -- After missing the final six games of the regular season with a stiff back, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa said he feels ready to go and will be in the lineup for Friday’s Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Rays at Minute Maid Park. “I

HOUSTON -- After missing the final six games of the regular season with a stiff back, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa said he feels ready to go and will be in the lineup for Friday’s Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Rays at Minute Maid Park.

“I felt great,” Correa said Thursday after the team’s final workout at Minute Maid Park. “I felt really good. I’m ready for tomorrow and I’m really excited.”

Correa, who was on the injured list from Aug. 20-Sept. 17 because of a stiff back, worked out with the club on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday without any issues.

Buy AL West champions gear | Postseason schedule and bracket

“It’s tough, but between [missing] four or five games in the regular season and being able to play in the playoffs, obviously I’ll pick the playoffs,” he said. “I feel great right now. My back feels really good. I had no issues at all during these three workouts. I’m very happy I get to play with my teammates and perform for my city.”

Game Date Result Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 4 HOU 6, TB 2 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 5 HOU 3, TB 1 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 7 TB 10, HOU 3 Watch
Gm 4 Oct. 8 TB 4, HOU 1 Watch
Gm 5 Oct. 10 HOU 6, TB 1 Watch

Correa, 25, hit .279 with 21 homers and 59 RBIs this year but played in only 75 games. In addition to the back injury at the end of the season, he was out from May 27-July 26 after he broke a rib while getting a massage at his home.

ALDS roster not set
Astros manager AJ Hinch said he met with the front office for 2 1/2 hours on Wednesday to discuss the makeup of the playoff roster, walking though scenarios for playing either the A’s or the Rays. Even though the Astros know they’ll now be facing Tampa Bay, Hinch said Thursday the roster wasn’t yet set.

“We're continuing that conversation,” he said. “These are sort of tough meetings to have, because we're talking about a number of guys that deserve to be on the team. But we can't take everybody. We can't play every scenario out over the course of a five-game series. So we're going to communicate some things to players today, some things are going to go down to the wire.”

Cash, Hinch share bond
Rays manager Kevin Cash, a former Astro, and Hinch are close friends and stay in touch frequently via text messages. When Hinch managed the AL All-Star team in 2018 in Washington, he invited Cash to join his coaching staff.

“We were just both poor-hitting backup catchers trying to survive in the game at the same time,” Hinch joked. “I don't know if I was a better hitter than him. But we have a very similar story when it comes to how our careers went, how we bounced around a little bit. The journeyman part of it, being young managers.”

Cash still remembers the speech Hinch gave to the AL All-Stars and how he made sure to make all the players feel welcome.

“AJ had maybe the best introduction speech to that All-Star group, and you're talking about just unbelievable players sitting in that clubhouse,” he said. “He went by, whether first-time All-Star, eight-time All-Star, every country that was represented. Just really, really well done.”

Both got their managerial careers started at young ages: Hinch at 34 when he was hired as manager by the D-backs in 2009, and Cash one day before his 37th birthday when he was hired by the Rays in 2014.

“There's nothing like going into the Winter Meetings when you go into the manager meeting and you look around and you're like, ‘Those guys don't look like us,' because we were in our mid-30s,” Hinch said. “We've always been on the younger side of this. He's very relatable. I consider myself relatable. We've always become nice friends.”

Reddick’s wife has twins
Astros outfielder Josh Reddick was excused from Thursday’s workout after his wife, Jett, gave birth to twin sons, Maverick and Ryder, on Wednesday in Houston. Hinch said Reddick would be in the lineup Friday.

“It was an incredibly emotional night for him,” Hinch said. “I've texted back and forth with him today. Saw the pictures. I know his wife is doing well, babies are doing well. So I'm happy for that. I'm happy it's done prior to the series. That would have been a stressful event for him in the middle of the series.”

Bregman an Aaron Award nominee
Astros third baseman Alex Bregman has been at the forefront of the AL Most Valuable Player Award conversation, so it's no surprise that he is the Astros' nominee for the prestigious 2019 Hank Aaron Award, recognizing the most outstanding offensive performer in each league.

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Bregman is expected to finish first or second in the MVP voting, with the Angels' Mike Trout widely believed to have a slight edge in the two-player race. Still, Bregman's strong season and elevated performance down the stretch -- he posted a 1.134 OPS after the All-Star break -- gave voters something to chew on as they compared Bregman's season to Trout's, which ended on Sept. 7 because of a right foot injury that required surgery.

Bregman called the MVP talk a "crazy" part of a "fun year." Beyond that, he's not terribly concerned about his MVP candidacy. There are more important events happening right now, and he's focused on winning games, not awards.

"I think the only reason that all this [MVP talk] is happening is because I do focus on games," he said, speaking from a "Growing Good" charity event hosted by pitcher Collin McHugh and his wife, Ashley, earlier in the week. "I try to help my team win in any way possible, and I think players play better when they're focused on winning. When you're playing meaningful games down the stretch, that matters. We did that. It put us in a position to get in the postseason again, and hopefully win."

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

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.