The most durable Twin this season was also one of the most hobbled. He appeared in a team-high 135 games, which was more than he should have played.
Yet Carlos Correa took his spot in the field and did what he could at the plate on a bad foot.
Correa felt a weird sensation in his left foot on May 22 when he stepped on first base. It was plantar fasciitis, generally an overuse injury that often is at its worst when one awakens in the morning and the foot hits the floor. The plantar fascia is located on the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes. Correa joined the Twin Cities chapter of the sports plantar fasciitis club, a membership that includes former Vikings Randy Moss and Kevin Williams, former Timberwolves Micheal Williams and Wally Szczerbiak and former Twins Marty Cordova and Shannon Stewart.
Correa's injury is the most well-known local case of plantar fasciitis since Stewart, who sparked the 2003 Twins following a midseason trade with Toronto. He went to cut off a ball in spring training of 2004 and felt a burning sensation from the heel to the middle of his left foot. He initially was told he had a heel bruise. He kept playing on it, landed on the injured list in May and missed 50 games with plantar fasciitis.
"There's different variants of it," said Stewart from his home in the Miami area on Monday. "I think I had a 30 percent tear. That thing was so painful, man, when I tried to run it felt like someone was on the bottom of my foot cutting me with a knife. I'm talking a big knife."
When told what we know about Correa's injury, Stewart said, "His doesn't sound as bad as mine."
Correa admitted earlier in the season that, if his plantar fasciitis had occurred last season as he approached free agency, he probably would have shut himself down until he was close to 100%. But this year, the contract extension had been signed and the Twins were desperate for offense. To heck with a shutdown.
He remained in the lineup as it failed during the first half, then sailed following the All-Star break. He landed on the injured list with 12 games remaining in the season when he aggravated his left foot while going after a popup in Cincinnati. He said he felt a pop as he made the play — which some people believe is not a bad sign for that particular injury. He was batting .300 with an .866 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in his prior 13 games. He hasn't played since that Sept. 18 game.
"A couple days after that, I felt better," Correa said. "That's what they say [happens] and that's what I felt."
As he met with the media Monday before the start of the American League wild-card series against Toronto, Correa made it clear he wasn't using the injury as an excuse. I wouldn't blame him if he did. His fantastic footwork is the foundation of his defense at short. Sudden bursts of movement had to be challenging. It had to be uncomfortable to hit, and everyone saw that he wasn't running well in the weeks following the original injury in May.
But he answered the bell this season more than any other Twin. Those 135 games this season were only one fewer than his first season in Minnesota last year.
He was fitted on Thursday for orthotics for his shoes that can alleviate pain. It's not clear if he's going to use them on Tuesday. In the past several days, he's taken grounders at short, hit and worked in some running. He feels he's ready, and the Twins will take anything their marquee player can contribute this postseason.
"I feel a lot better now," Correa said. "I feel ready to go in these playoffs. And that's all that matters. You know when you go into the regular season, the reason why they brought me here is, first, you want to win the division. We did that. So now you throw the numbers out the window. And the [second] season starts and this is the season that matters. So it's time to go."