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Correa where he's supposed to be, leading Twins against Astros in ALDS

Minnesota Twins Carlos Correa - The Canadian Press

HOUSTON (AP) — Carlos Correa’s path to a second season with the Minnesota Twins was a circuitous one that included him almost signing with both the Giants and the Mets.

As the star shortstop prepared to lead the Twins in the AL Division Series against his former team the Houston Astros this weekend, he reflected on his crazy offseason.

“It worked out the way it was supposed to for sure,” Correa told The Associated Press on Friday.

Correa agreed to mega deals first with San Francisco and then the Mets before problems with his physical derailed both. It was then that he re-signed with the Twins for a second season after first joining them following his departure from the Astros after the 2021 season.

“I always stayed in touch with them and deep in my heart I wanted to go back,” Correa said.

He thought it was important to test the market and talk to teams that were willing to give him “the value you think you deserve.” But when the deals with those two teams fell through, the choice to return to the Twins was easy.

“God had a different purpose for me, and it was here in Minnesota and it’s special to be here,” he said. “When you’re around this group of guys, the way we get along, we’re building something really, really cool.”

Correa’s dazzling defense in the Wild Card Series against the Blue Jays helped the Twins win a playoff series for the first time in 21 years. He’s thrilled to be back in the postseason after watching from home last year following five straight trips with the Astros.

“It brings the best out of me,” he said. “The energy, the passion that I feel for this game really shows when October comes around. And, yeah, I give everything I have when It’s October baseball and I never want to miss it again.”

Correa, the first overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft, has been part of some of the biggest postseason moments in Astros history. He helped Houston to its first title in 2017 and hit .500 with three homers and 11 RBIs in the ALDS in 2020 to lead the team past Oakland.

He’s played in 16 postseason series for the Astros, including three trips to the World Series.

Now he’ll try and keep the Astros from moving on to defend their crown. He loves that he’s facing his former team in the playoffs for the first time.

“I think it makes it even more fun because it’s a great story,” he said. “I was part of that team and now I’m on the other side and we’re going to try to beat them, we’re going to go out there and try to stop their dynasty and what they’ve accomplished for so many years… so it’s going to be extra fun, extra spicy.”

He insists that he holds no ill will toward the Astros for not keeping him in Houston when he became a free agent and that he doesn’t dwell on things in the past.

“I’m big into stoicism,” Correa said. “And the way it’s taught is if you can control it, try to fix it, if you can’t, then let it go. And that’s kind of how it felt when I didn’t come back here. And now, I’m in this spot with this organization and it just feels like it was the right decision.”

Correa’s teammates in Minnesota rave about him and know that having someone with his postseason pedigree will only help the Twins as they try to keep winning this postseason. Rookie Royce Lewis said he’s looked up to Correa since he was a kid and now that they play together, he thinks even more of him.

“He’s a superstar of this league… he really he really takes care of us, and he loves us,” Lewis said. “He does everything for this team. He gives his whole body, mind, effort to this team. It’s like 120 percent of Carlos is in this team, and I think that’s why we’re here right now, as well as all the other guys in the locker room.”

Correa isn’t sure what kind of reception he’ll get this weekend in his return to Minute Maid Park. But he’s focused on helping the Twins find the kind of sustained success that the Astros have had.

“I don’t know how that’s going to play out, but we’ll see tomorrow how the fans and the game goes, but I’m trying to win,” he said. “That’s all I know. I’m going to do whatever it takes to take this team to the top.”