MINNEAPOLIS — With each empty at-bat by Carlos Correa, the exasperation mounted in the crowd in Minnesota.
The boos at the end were merely the natural progression.
Correa went 0-for-5 — dropping his batting average to .185 — and stranded six runners on base for the Twins in their 6-1 loss to the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night, and the star shortstop said he “absolutely” heard the booing that followed his last two fruitless plate appearances.
“I’d boo myself too with the amount of money I’m making, if I’m playing like that,” said Correa, who signed a six-year, $200 million contract with the Twins on Jan. 11 after richer agreements with the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets fell through amid concern about the long-term health of his ankle.
There’s no injury here, just a stunningly slow start to the season for a player the Twins committed more money to than anyone else in franchise history — hence the boos.
“Obviously, (the boos are) acceptable. It’s part of the game, part of sports,” Correa said. “Fans want production, and fans want a team that’s going to compete out there and win games. It’s to be expected when you play poorly. But at the same time, the work doesn’t stop. I’m going to keep working and keep focusing on the things I can control, and the results will come.”
The Twins (19-17), who still lead the American League Central by two games over the Cleveland Guardians and 2½ games over the Detroit Tigers on the strength of their starting pitching, have scored six runs in their past four games. They had 28 hits in 58 innings on a 2-4 road trip last week and have fallen to last in the major leagues in batting average at .219. They have the fifth-most strikeouts.
“Even though we haven’t been playing our best baseball, even though I haven’t been playing my best baseball, we’re in a good spot when it comes to the division. When I get right, when we get right as a team, then we’re going to be playing better baseball and hopefully build a bigger lead,” Correa said.
Correa is far from the only expected-to-produce hitter not doing his part for the Twins. Joey Gallo‘s hitless streak reached 25 straight at-bats until he singled in the seventh inning Tuesday. Jose Miranda went 2-for-21 on the road trip last week.
But with Correa making $32 million this year, tied for the sixth-largest position player salary in the major leagues, he’s the easiest target for fans directing their frustration. Correa fittingly ended innings with his last four at-bats against the Padres, prompting the boos from the crowd of 16,882.
He popped out to first base with runners on first and second in the third, struck out with the bases empty in the fifth, struck out with runners at first and second in seventh, and grounded out to end the game with runners at second and third.
“I trust the player and I trust our coaching staff to be able to work through this. We have a lot of baseball to play, and Carlos has great perspective. He knows that. He understands that,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Adding stress to a situation never works. Adding ideas to a situation and adding some patience for yourself and some ways to actually calm down probably work better than anything else, and I think he knows that.”