Carlos Correa is the reigning Rookie of the Year. And as the 2016 season rolls around, there’s plenty of insider talk—from a panel of 31 ESPN experts, no less—that Correa will be in strong contention for another award: American League MVP. (Yep: He’s right up there with Mike Trout.)
Correa, 21, is a baseball legend in the making. It’s already paying off: He’s joined Team Adidas in a multiyear partnership, the brand announced on April 4th. A self-professed “cleathead,” the Puerto Rican shortstop says he wants to work with Adidas to “step up the cleat game to a different level.” And they’re already well on their way, unveiling a custom pair of adidas Boost Icon 1 Player Edition cleats during their Opening Day game against the New York Yankees. He says the cleats, pictured above, represent the fusion of family: his relatives, the Astros, and Adidas.
We caught up with Correa ahead of today’s game to talk cleats, sneakers, training, and more. (Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and concision.)
Men’s Fitness: Can you just tell us a little about the new cleats?
Carlos Correa: The cleats, they describe who I am and my personality. My first cleats are for my family and have cool designs. I’m going to wear them [in today’s game against the Yankees] and then eventually we will come out with more cleats with more color and flair to them.
Do you think that by wearing cleats that you feel very cool and confident, in that it translates to your performance on the field?
Oh definitely. I feel like it helps your body language when you have great cleats. Your body language is different when you’re wearing the best cleats on the field. I want to wear cleats so the fans from the upper deck can see them when I’m playing shortstop. I want to wear cool cleats and it makes me feel better. When you look good, you play good.
You’re into style and fashion off the field too, right?
Yes, I am.
So are you a sneakerhead in addition to a cleat head?
Yes. It’s just about being professional. I just like to look good on and off the field. Cleathead on the field, sneakerhead off the field. I show a little style, it’s not all fashion, it’s more about style. Fashion can be bought but style you have to perfect that.
What kind of sneakers are you into these days?
I like the Yeezys, the Ultra Boost… I’m wearing a new pair of Ultra Boost—I got 1 of only 50 in the world. The new NMD are great. The Superstars are a classic, I just want to make sure every time I step out of my house I look good and have nice shoes on.
Switching gears to training, a lot of people are speculating that you have a long career ahead of you as long as you stay injury-free. What are you doing to ensure that you stay healthy?
I eat very healthy, I rest well, I train hard but smart. Off-season, I have a strict diet where I eat only lean meats [like salmon] and vegetables [like broccoli and asparagus] and fruits and good carbs [like brown rice]. In the regular season I try to keep my diet, but it’s hard because when you’re in the clubhouse you are going to eat whatever is in there and obviously I am not gonna starve. It’s a combination of the work ethic and nutrition and sleep. I make sure I do that every night. I make sure I eat lean meats to stay lean and strong.
How much sleep do you get every night?
I like to get 8-9 hours in order for me to have a full recovery and be ready for the next day. This is a game that we play and it’s really hard on the body so you have to be recovered for the next day.
Do you do any yoga?
I’m not big into yoga, because I like more aggressive stuff. To recover I get on some of the machines but I have never been big into yoga. If I said I was I would be lying to you. I do other stuff too, like stretch for a long time.
What do you do in the gym to ensure you play your best on the field?
When I’m in the off season I work out 5 or 6 times a week in the gym and when I am in season I work out 2 or 3 times a week but I do my pre-workout routine when I get to the field. So I do med-ball work, core work, and lower back work before I go to bat. I do it in order to be warm and ready and strong to go hit.
Do you have 2 or 3 favorite core exercises?
Core stability on all fours where the coach throws me the ball but I have push it back to him, I do that 20 times. And ball slams. I like simulating a swing with a med ball. For glutes, I like to do walks with bands on my ankles and just walk a little bit side to side and backwards in order to get those glutes going so I don’t get hurt when I go in the cage.
A hot topic in youth sports right now is whether kids should play more than one sport when they’re young. Do you think that kids who want to be pro baseball players like you should only focus on baseball, or should they incorporate other sports into their lives too?
I always played every single sport—my dad always told me to. But when I got to high school and baseball got more serious and I realized I had true talent, I started to focus on baseball because I didn’t want to get hurt playing basketball or something. Once in high school they should focus on that one sport and work out for it. I don’t work out like football players work out. You have to be specific in your workouts and simplify it to what you would be doing on the field.
You’ve said Roberto Clemente was as a huge influence in your career. How so?
Just the way he took care of business and how he handled his life off the field. He was able to help a lot of people in Nicaragua so he became a good role model for me. I don’t want to just be a good baseball player—I want to be a good human being as well and help others. I have a charity that provides beds to kids that don’t have beds. Those are the things that really make me happy—it makes me happier than when I hit home runs, knowing that I am helping kids.
What are you looking forward to now that the season is starting?
To be able to perform for my team and help them win ball games. The main goal in the clubhouse is to win a World Series ring. We don’t want to just make the playoffs; we have higher expectations now. We want to win a World Series.