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Springer earns AL Rookie of the Month honor

HOUSTON -- After George Springer learned he won the American League Rookie of the Month Award, he walked across the Astros' clubhouse toward Jose Altuve.

Then Springer hugged him.

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"Thank you," Springer told him.

Springer is just the fourth Astros player to win a Rookie of the Month Award and the first since Hunter Pence won in May 2007. Roy Oswalt won the award in August 2001, and Kirk Saarloos in July 2002. Those, of course, were National League Rookie of the Month Awards.

In the clubhouse before Houston's game against Los Angeles, Springer repeatedly gave thanks to his teammates, but Altuve, in particular. Batting leadoff, Altuve leads the Major Leagues with 78 hits. Springer hit second behind Altuve throughout May, which is why he was so quick to acknowledge his teammate.

"It means a lot," Altuve said of the hug. "I don't think he had to do that. He did it by himself. He's amazing."

Springer hit .294 over 26 games last month, including four doubles, one triple, 10 homers, 25 RBIs, 22 runs scored and 13 walks. He led the league's rookies in at-bats, hits and on-base percentage (.385), and he was second in the league with a .357 average on balls put in play.

Springer's 10 homers tied him for third all-time in baseball history for long balls in May by a rookie, and he finished one homer shy of tying the Astros' franchise record for home runs in May set by Jimmy Wynn in 1969.

Springer hit his first career homer on May 8 and took off from there. On Thursday, he hit his seventh homer in a seven-game stretch, becoming only the second rookie in MLB history to do so (Rudy York with the Tigers in August 1937). The last Astros player to do so was Morgan Ensberg in 2006.

"After a couple of slow weeks to get his career started, he did what he needed to do surrounded by good hitting coaches, a good manager and good teammates to put himself in position to win that award," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "I'm delighted for him. He absolutely deserves it. I have a feeling it's not going to be the last player of the month award he receives. Hopefully there'll be another one even this year."

Houston's lineup was different for its game against the Angels, with Dexter Fowler batting leadoff and Springer batting third. Manager Bo Porter said one of his goals with the lineup change was to make sure Altuve is still hitting in front of Springer, so he moved to batting second.

"With him on base and [Fowler] hitting behind me, those guys were a big part of my success in those games," Springer said.

Springer didn't just give credit to his teammates. The 24-year-old will be giving the trophy to his parents.

The Astros finished May with a 15-14 record, which was the first time the club has finished a month above .500 since they went 14-13 in September 2010. Springer, however, didn't dwell on the award and relatively successful month for too long. He was quick to start talking about what's ahead, as was the rest of the team.

"That was May," Springer said. "This is June and I'm happy to help us win and contribute and hopefully we can keep playing good."

Mike Vernon is an associate reporter for

Houston Astros, George Springer