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Houston — Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is in pain.

Every swing and miss hurts his back, and on the bad days it can even be uncomfortable for Correa to walk.

Correa often puts on a brave face but told The Associated Press how much this is affecting him as the Astros prepare to leave for Boston and the best-of-seven AL Championship Series that begins on Saturday.

“You’re a competitor so every time you step on the field you play it off like everything is fine,” he said Wednesday. “But obviously you’re hurting.”

Correa returned from a six-week stint on the disabled list on Aug. 10 and declared that he was better. But he has struggled to regain his top form. He hit just .180 in the second half of the season and managed a single hit — a home run — in an ALDS, looking nothing like the player who made the All-Star team last season and was the 2015 rookie of the year.

He said it bothers him most at the plate, and it’s been impossible to get back to how he felt before the injury.

“Not only to find my swing, just to feel comfortable at the plate when I swing,” he said. “Because I know every time I swing and miss it’s going to hurt. So, I try not to swing and miss and then I try to baby my swing and I don’t swing as hard as I usually do or as quick as I usually do. So, it’s definitely been tough.”

Correa said there’s been a domino effect of pain in other areas, most notably in his obliques, as he tries to avoid doing things that make his back hurt.

He’s receiving treatment “24/7,” but the pain remains. He’s using a foam roller at home and been sporadically taking anti-inflammatories.

“It’s just a pain down in my lower back that doesn’t let me move right,” he said. “When I bend over, when I rotate. Sometimes when I wake up and I walk in the morning, I know it’s not going to be a good day.”

He’s accepted that the aching likely will be with him until he gets an extended rest. He’s trying not to let it weigh on him, but in private moments at home with his fiancee Daniella Rodriguez, he laments that he simply hasn’t been himself this season.

“When I go to sleep at night, I think about especially this year (how) I’m not performing the way I know I can perform, it’s just been tough,” he said. “Sometimes I talk to Daniella and I’m like: ‘There’s nothing I can do about it. I’m hurting.’ But I’m a competitor so you grind, you try to perform. But it’s definitely … been frustrating at times.”

Price will start Game 2

Red Sox manager Alex Cora is sticking with left-hander David Price, saying Wednesday he will start Game 2 of the AL Championship Series against Houston despite an unprecedented history of playoff struggles.

Speaking on MLB Network radio a day after the Red Sox eliminated the Yankees from the AL Division Series, Cora said he plans to use Chris Sale in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series that begins at Fenway Park on Saturday. Cora said Price, the loser in the Red Sox only defeat in the ALDS, is still in line to start Game 2.

“We trust him,” Cora said last week after Price, a former Tiger, allowed three runs and got just five outs in a 6-2 loss in Game 2. “He bounced back before. We’ll talk to him and make a few adjustments and we’ll go from there.”

Nathan Eovaldi and 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello are expected to start Games 3 and 4, after picking up wins in the same roles against the Yankees. The current Red Sox staff entered the series with a 0-19 postseason record as starters, and now everyone but Price has picked up a win. Price has won two games in relief.

In all, Price is 0-9 as a starter in the postseason and his team has lost all 10 of his career playoff starts, the longest such skid in postseason history. The latest was a five-out cameo in Game 2 against the Yankees in which he gave up homers to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.

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