Rookie George Springer improving for Astros

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HOUSTON (AP) - George Springer’s career with the Houston Astros certainly didn’t get off to a tremendous start, prompting some to wonder whether they put him in the majors too soon.

But after his first month in the big leagues, the 24-year-old rookie has figured out how to slow things down and is beginning to show why he was one of the team’s most prized prospects.

In his first 14 games, the 2011 first-round pick hit just .182 with no home runs. Since then, he’s hit .286 with three homers as he’s settled in as Houston’s everyday right fielder.

“I’ve been able to slow myself down a lot more and kind of just start to go out there and play and start to be who I am instead of pressing or trying to do something that I can’t do,” Springer said. “That’s obviously going to take some time to still iron everything out, but I feel good and things have been slowing down a lot and it’s only up from here.”

Houston manager Bo Porter agrees with Springer’s assessment and said his maturation in the last month has been impressive.

Springer had 37 homers and 108 RBIs with 45 stolen bases combined in Double-A and Triple-A last year. He had a great start in Triple-A this season, hitting .353 with three homers and nine RBIs to earn his call-up.

His success in the minors helped calm him when things weren’t going great at first with the Astros.

“As a competitor and as a player you want to succeed and you want to help them win,” he said. “When that doesn’t happen right away you can’t panic … you just have to trust yourself and trust the process and just take input and feedback from everybody and just apply it to myself.”

Springer has leaned heavily on teammate and fellow outfielder Dexter Fowler since joining the big league team.

The 28-year-old Fowler is one of Houston’s most veteran players and has spent a lot of time with Springer. Their lockers are right next to each other and Springer lived with Fowler while he was finding a place in Houston.

The fashionable Fowler even took Springer clothes shopping on his first road trip because the rookie only had the outfits he had packed for what he thought would be a short Triple-A road trip before getting the call from Houston.

Fowler has enjoyed watching Springer develop and calls him a “special talent.” He’s liked a lot of what he’s seen so far from his new teammate, but there is one quality that he has been particularly impressed with.

“The way he handles adversity as a young player,” Fowler said. “He never got down on himself. He’s gone through some rough patches, but he’s coming through like a champ.”

The Astros have been particularly pleased with Springer’s increased discipline at the plate recently. Porter raved about Springer when he drew three walks in Houston’s win over Texas on Tuesday night. It was the first time since 2006 a Houston rookie had walked three times in a game.

Springer joked that everyone was “shocked” that he walked three times after walking just six times in his other 25 games.

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