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Kiermaier wins Rays' Heart and Hustle Award

PHILADELPHIA -- Kevin Kiermaier is the Rays' 2015 Heart and Hustle Award winner.

"For me to get this, it really does mean a lot to me," Kiermaier said. "I play the way I do because that's the way I've always played. But I also want to be contagious to my teammates and other guys around the game because that's the way I think the game should be played."

The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) made the announcement on Tuesday that the Rays' outfielder was this year's selection for the award that goes to the player who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and tradition of the game.

The Heart and Hustle Award is the only award in MLB that is voted on by former players.

"[Kevin] plays with energy every game, never taking a pitch off," said Tom Foley, Rays bench coach. "[He] runs hard, plays hard and loves and respects the game."

The MLBPAA formed 30 committees, comprised of alumni players with established relationships to each team. One player from each Major League team is chosen by the committees based on their passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field. These players will be recognized prior to an upcoming home game.

As the season draws to a close, fans, all alumni and active players will vote to select the final winner from the 30 team winners. The previous overall winners are David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio (2006, 2007), Grady Sizemore (2008), Albert Pujols (2009), Roy Halladay (2010), Torii Hunter (2011), Mike Trout (2012), Dustin Pedroia (2013) and Josh Harrison (2014).

The final winner will be announced on November 10, 2015, at the 16th Annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City. This event is the primary fundraiser for the series of free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics.

Kiermaier said winning the award means a lot to him, and he allowed that he would like to be voted as the overall winner.

"I truly believe that no one goes out there and plays with the effort level I do," Kiermaier said. "But at the same time, I looked at the other recipients, very well deserving."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
Read More: Tampa Bay Rays, Kevin Kiermaier