- Associated Press - Thursday, May 11, 2017

HOUSTON (AP) - Carlos Correa has a darling new addition to his family and Houston’s standout shortstop has a bold prediction for what might be the cutest puppy on the planet.

“He’s going to be more famous than me,” Correa said.

This star in the making is Groot, a Pomeranian and husky mix. The “pomsky” is Correa’s first dog and he’s already shown some star power. A video Correa posted on Instagram of Groot chasing a baseball has been viewed more than 1.3 million times. And the dog named after a character from the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy” has already snagged an invitation to visit Marvel Studios and pick up some special treats.

“When I take him to Marvel headquarters, then he’ll be in superhero movies,” Correa said.

Getting a dog was a big move for the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year. Correa said his mother wouldn’t allow them when he was growing up in Puerto Rico because she knew she’d be the one who had to clean up after the pet while her son was at school, followed by hours of baseball practice daily.

He had specific parameters when he decided to get a dog at the urging of his girlfriend , Daniella Rodriguez.

“I’m not big into dogs, so I was like: ‘If we’re going to get a dog, we better get a dog that I like and that I’m in love with,’” he said. “A dog that looks really cute, almost like a teddy bear.”

That wasn’t as easy as it sounds. He pored over pictures of more than 100 dogs before he found Groot, rejecting plenty of adorable pooches along the way. Correa would not say how much Groot cost, though he noted the birthplace was Akron, Ohio -“He’s a stud, just like LeBron.”

Drafted out of high school at just 17, Correa has grown from a mature teenager into an ultra-confident man and the face of a young and talented Astros team as he enters his second full season in the majors. In the last year, he has bought a house, got serious with his girlfriend, a former Miss Texas USA, and become a clubhouse leader at just 22.

“He’s becoming more and more comfortable in his own skin,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “I think that comes with time … (but) there hasn’t been a huge change in him. But he’s a smarter player, his interactions on the bench and some of his preparation has been improved and he came at a pretty high level.”

Correa said he doesn’t want to have children for at least five years, but thought getting a dog with Rodriguez would be a small step toward a future family.

“I’m so young and I want to be able to enjoy life and be able to do a lot of things that having a kid I would not be able to do,” he said. “So I feel like with a dog it would be better, so I got the dog.”

Groot was six weeks old when he arrived at Correa’s Houston home. There was immediate drama: Correa’s 8-year-old sister, Leibysand, was the first one to greet the pup at the door, and she said the animal was going to be hers.

“I’m like no … this is my dog,” Correa said. “And she started crying.”

She protested for a bit before finally relenting and embracing a role as the dog’s aunt. As for the name, Correa chose Groot because the movie is part of his daily routine, and his favorite character is a tree-like superhero voiced by Vin Diesel whose only line is repeating the words: “I am Groot.”

“I go to sleep with the TV on every single night and I play that movie every night to fall asleep,” he said. “Because I’ve seen it so many times that I know what’s going to happen so I end up like watching and then I fall asleep.”

Correa knew he’d have to find other ways to separate the pup from the pack. So he found an obedience school in West Palm Beach, Florida. While he was tuning up for the season at spring training, Groot was learning how to behave just down the road.

So how did the canine classes go?

“He’s so young … but when I have the treats he listens,” Correa said.


More AP baseball: apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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