Springer's buddy 'Earl' wants votes for Altuve

Springer's buddy 'Earl' wants votes for Altuve

HOUSTON -- As a reward for hitting the left-field foul pole with his two-run homer in Tuesday night's win over the Royals, Astros outfielder George Springer arrived to the clubhouse on Wednesday to a massive package from the pole's sponsor, Chick-fil-A, sitting in his locker.

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After Springer rummaged through the contents, out came Earl, a stuffed cow that Springer immediately named, gave a locker to and introduced to a gaggle of reporters.

"Earl got in today," Springer said. "His flight landed about 12, had to fight the traffic and got to the clubhouse late. He's a good little guy, I like him he's cool."

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Springer stopped speaking shortly thereafter, quickly changing Earl into an orange "Yes Way, Jose!" shirt as the clubhouse continues to campaign for second baseman Jose Altuve to start the All-Star Game on July 14 at Great American Ball Park. At the last update on Monday, Altuve trailed Kansas City's Omar Infante by 231,708 votes.

"Earl understands the point of it," Springer said. "Earl wants everybody to go vote, obviously he gets it, he's telling you to vote for Altuve. Go eat more chicken and then vote for Altuve, then vote for him again, then go eat more chicken."

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Astros manager A.J. Hinch met Earl shortly before his pregame media availability began and said Earl's availability for the 10-game road trip starting on Friday would be based solely on the outcome of Wednesday's game against the Royals -- a win guarantees Earl a spot on the plane.

Hinch, a member of the AL All-Star coaching staff, then echoed Earl, imploring fans to cast their votes for Altuve.

"He's everything right that's about the Astros," Hinch said. "We've got a lot of good things going, the year started with [Craig] Biggio's induction into the Hall of Fame, it's gone very well on the field so far, it's a nice environment with the fans responding. Having Jose represent all that would be very appropriate."

Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.