With the Major League Baseball season still on hold during the coronavirus pandemic, Marly Rivera caught up with Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros. The 25-year-old shortstop is at home in Houston with his wife, Daniela, for the duration, and he spoke with ESPN about how he's staying ready to resume action, what he thinks about baseball's discussions about how the sport will resume play, and responds to lingering questions about MLB's investigation of the Astros' sign-stealing scandal.
How are you staying in shape during the lockdown?
Carlos Correa: I was finally able to establish a routine. I get up in the morning, we make breakfast. I make some amazing pancakes, really good. After resting a bit, after I digest my food, I head out to the backyard. That's where I'm working out. I have bars to do, squats, and I have enough space to do agility drills and things like that. I have a batting cage back there, too.
I have to keep up with my routine and I feel like I have been able to keep in good shape because obviously we don't know when we'll get that call to play again and I want to be prepared for when that happens.
After the sign-stealing investigation and all the front-office changes, is it more frustrating for you not being able to prove yourself on the field?
Obviously, it's not ideal. It's not what we wanted. We wanted to play baseball and show what kind of team we are, the kind of players we are. But what's happening now is much more important than baseball. We are talking about something that's affecting the lives of so many people, many families who are suffering right now. Now our focus has moved on from playing baseball to finding ways to help people. I have been working hard with my team to look for ways to distribute food, supplies and help in bringing all the things hospitals need during this time of crisis.
How are you helping?
I collaborated with a medical equipment company for a donation worth roughly $500,000 that we were able to bring masks to hospitals here in Houston. Every day we have been sending 2,500 meals to different areas here in Houston -- for firefighters, police officers, all those people on the front lines during this pandemic.
Right now, we are working on something big, really big, to help Puerto Rico. We haven't done it yet, but we're working on it, thanks to owner Jim Crane. We are working together with many players like [Francisco] Lindor, [Eddie] Rosario, Martin Maldonado and many artists, like Bad Bunny. We are working on transporting more than $1 million worth of masks for hospitals. We are sending supplies, we have sent 26 pallets of supplies worth around $2 million, with the help of so many people, and many more artists and players. Prior to this, we had sent $700,000 in supplies to Puerto Rico after the earthquakes to help homeless people. It is something that I have been able to focus more on now that I am not thinking about baseball. We have been able to focus more on those needs, and for us, as a family, it's really rewarding to be able to help.
How are you keeping in touch with your team?
We text constantly and check up on what everyone's doing. I am always on FaceTime with Machete [Martin] Maldonado, with Jose Altuve, who is doing the same thing -- working out at home. Lance McCullers Jr. and Alex Bregman are working out together at Bregman's house. We talk almost every day, too. It's been really different because we are so used to going out together, eating out, traveling to play in different cities. Now that we are home we have to find new ways to have fun, to pass the time. We've already been sheltering at home for close to four weeks. You have to be a bit innovative.
How are you being innovative in beating cabin fever?
We are watching "The Walking Dead." I watched until Season 5. I think they're now in the 10th [season]. So we still have time. We saw "Casa de Papel." We've seen every show out there on Netflix. If it's on, we have seen it. Saw "Tiger King," that was a little crazy. We also play on our small basketball court and swim in the pool. We invented this game with my family where we get on FaceTime and draw playing cards and you have to compete doing as many pushups as the numbers on the cards! I'm working on getting Daniela a WNBA contract. She's practicing every day. After this quarantine, she's turning pro, whether it's on the court or in the pool. She comes out either as Skylar Diggins or as Michael Phelps!
Any videogames for you?
I don't play video games. That's not my thing. I used to play a lot, but now I am a married guy with two dogs (Rocky and Groot) who need a lot of attention. I don't have much time for video games. My arm hurts from playing fetch!
You saw what Evan Gattis said, that you guys "cheated the game." What did you think about his comments?
We have to turn the page. We have to stop talking about it and focus on what is important right now, which is to recover from this pandemic and then be able to return to baseball. We are eager to play this season because we have a lot to prove. And it has not happened so far, but we hope that at some point it will. But right now my focus is not on what people are saying, it's on how we can help people, how we can get through this pandemic, on staying healthy and doing what's necessary to help people not only here in Houston but also in Puerto Rico. My life, what I think, what I do, what I listen to, is focused on the opinions of people who are close to me, who are important to me -- my family, my friends, my teammates. I am focused on looking for a way to move forward. Those things are in the past. Now we need to focus on what comes next, which is hopefully some kind of season, a short season, we don't know, but hopefully a successful season for us.
How do you prepare for a season when you have no idea if or when it will start?
I hope we're playing again soon. Obviously, there are many discussions between the MLBPA and MLB about different options to resume play. You have to stay prepared. I have always prepared in the offseason to be ready before spring training. I don't wait for training to prepare. That's the way I see it now. It's the offseason for us right now. We are preparing for the season. And every day I am looking for ways to improve because I want to be a better player this year than I was last year.
There have been some interesting proposals that have come out: the Arizona plan, doing away with divisions. What do you think about those?
In terms of Arizona, what's a deal-breaker for players is that they say you have to be in isolation, without your family. That's something that I think will never happen. No player wants to be without his family. There are many players that have pregnant wives, that have small children. Family is the most important thing to many of us, if not all of us. But it's the first proposal that came out. And obviously many people posted it, and the media posted it to be the first ones to post it, and be the first one to break the news. But it's something really excessive. Too excessive. But in the same way we want to play, MLB wants to play. But that's just the first proposal that came out. It's pretty extreme. But as much as we want to play, MLB also wants to us to play. We are looking for the best options to be able to play. If that's the only option, then we have to play. But we want the best option. We want to play, but under the best option, and I don't think that's the best proposal right now.
Regarding us playing in Florida and changing divisions, I think that's very interesting. It's really interesting because I would get to play against so many players that I don't play against during the season. There are a lot of players that you don't even get to know because obviously you are in the same division all the time and playing against AL teams. In the area we are in Florida, we'd play against the Nationals, the Mets, the Marlins, teams we rarely play against. It would be really interesting.
But at the same time, it would be without our families there. Things would also change playing with no fans. As a player, you feel that intensity during the regular season because of those 30,000 fans that fill the ballpark. You get pumped up with all the people cheering and being happy. That would be something that we would really miss a lot. But if that is the only option, and the option that is best for us and for MLB, then that's what it will be. But we all want to play. MLB wants to play; we want to play. We're all trying.
When talking about the NBA resuming play, Mark Cuban said that they may have to play without fans at first. Would you be willing to play with no fans for a few weeks?
Definitely. I think playing without fans [for a short while] would not be a problem for us. Many baseball fans can't wait for the season to start, especially in times like this, when there is nothing to do and no sports to watch. I think that if we can be the first sport to come back, we are going to have an incredible audience. That would be great for our sport.
I'll give you an example. I'm a huge UFC fan. For me, that's the ultimate sport. Give me the Super Bowl or a UFC card, and I'll take the UFC card. They had a card with no fans and I really enjoyed it here at home. Many baseball fans feel that way. They want to see baseball, even if it is without fans (for a while) and I think they will enjoy it from home.
Has this made you appreciate baseball more -- not to complain about things that we complain so much about, like game lengths or pace of play?
Definitely. I mean, when you go out there, as a player, you always appreciate everything and want to give your best every chance you get. But I have been known to complain when games are long, when we had to play a lot of extra innings. I would complain about playing 14 innings. At times like this, I would give everything to play a game of 25 innings. I miss so much that passion that I feel for baseball and spending time in the clubhouse with my teammates.
What do you think about the suggestions of playing seven-inning doubleheaders, or games ending in a tie after a certain amount of extra innings, or placing a runner on second like in the WBC?
If we weren't in the situation we are now, I would tell you that's crazy. If it were a normal situation, I would tell you that makes no sense. But 2020 is not a normal year. And we will have to make adjustments to be able to play. If we have to play more doubleheaders, whether seven or nine innings, we will play. We will do what we have to do, as long as it's the best option for us, and obviously, if we are protected, because obviously we can't play 10 games a week. Our bodies can't handle that. But at the same time, we will have bigger rosters, there will be more players, so we will have enough rest. The truth is that if we have a season, it will have to be very different.
Do you believe we will have a season?
Yes, I think so. I think that in about a month or so we will start figuring out some options to play, even if it is without fans. But the most important thing now is to conform to all the guidelines, to practice social distancing, to wash your hands and not touch your face and to stay home. If we all follow the guidelines, then that's the only way we will be able to return to our normal lives at some point.