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Gardner earns hustle honor for third time

NEW YORK -- For the second time in as many years, the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association named Brett Gardner the Yankees' Heart and Hustle Award winner.

The award, given to one member from each team, honors active players who demonstrate a passion for baseball and "best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game." The only award voted on by former players, it has been given annually since 2005.

"It's something you can control," said Gardner, who also won the award in 2010 and '13. "So many parts of the game are out of your control. That's one thing you can control, is the way you play and the effort that you give. It's probably one of the reasons I was able to not only make it here, but stay here for a little while.

"Obviously, I take a lot of pride in trying to play the game hard and play the game the right way. My dad always told me that: 'Play every game like it's going to be your last. You never know when it could be taken from you, and just have fun.'"

Each team's winners will be recognized prior to an upcoming home game. As the season draws to a close, fans, alumni and active players will vote to select the final winner from the 30 team winners, which will be announced on Nov. 18 at the 15th annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City.

Previous winners include David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio ('06, '07), Grady Sizemore ('08), Albert Pujols ('09), Roy Halladay ('10), Torii Hunter ('11), Mike Trout ('12) and Dustin Pedroia ('13).

Gardner entered Tuesday hitting .274 with nine home runs, 40 RBIs, six triples and 16 stolen bases. But his consistent durability -- he's played in 95 games -- is even more impressive.

"I think everybody -- if they're going through a slump or personally struggling, or if the team's struggling -- some guys get down," Gardner said. "But that's what your teammates are for. You keep each other motivated and you push each other. You're running out there with them every night, so you want to play hard for them."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for
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