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Hellickson snares first Gold Glove Award

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jeremy Hellickson can bring his fastball -- and the leather.

On Tuesday night, the Rays right-hander received his due for fielding excellence when he won a Gold Glove Award, sharing the honor with White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy.

This is the first time two pitchers have been named co-winners of the Gold Glove Award, and the third time a tie has occurred at any position. In 2007, four National League outfielders were chosen, and in 1985, four American League outfielders were honored.

"I wasn't expecting it at all," Hellickson said, "so that's pretty cool."

Hellickson spoke of winning the award as if it belonged to the entire Rays' staff.

"We all take a great deal of pride and work on [fielding] during Spring Training," Hellickson said. "We all grew up playing the field as well. We'd all love to win this, and we love competing fielding-wise just like we do pitching-wise."

In the vein of friendly competition among his fellow Rays starters, Hellickson was asked what he thought the ultra-competitive David Price might think about Hellickson winning a Gold Glove since Tampa Bay's ace has not. Hellickson allowed himself a chuckle.

"I don't know [what he will think]," Hellickson said. "I can't wait to tell him though -- can't wait to tell any of them."

By winning his first Gold Glove Award, Hellickson became the fourth player in Rays history to win the honor. First baseman Carlos Pena became the first Tampa Bay player to win a Gold Glove, when he did so in 2008. Evan Longoria won back-to-back awards for third base from 2009-10, and Carl Crawford won an outfield Gold Glove in '10.

"Our team as a whole takes pride in our defense," Hellickson said. "It's just an awesome award to win -- especially how hard we work on our defense and how much time we put into it."

Desmond Jennings was the only other Rays player nominated for an award, but Alex Gordon of the Royals claimed the award for left field.

Hellickson, who was named the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner, became the second pitcher in Major League history to win both a Rookie of the Year Award and a Gold Glove Award, joining Fernando Valenzuela of the Los Angeles Dodgers (1982 NL Rookie of the Year, '86 NL Gold Glove).

At 25 years old, Hellickson is the youngest AL pitcher to win the award since Bret Saberhagen (25) of the Royals in 1989.

The Gold Glove Awards are voted on by the managers and coaches in each league. The 2012 season marked the 57th year of the Gold Glove Award. The first were awarded in 1957 to one player at each position from both leagues then expanded the next year to include a lineup of nine players, one from each league.

Tampa Bay Rays, Jeremy Hellickson