Springer thrills fans during Astroline appearance

Springer thrills fans during Astroline appearance

HOUSTON -- It was the kind of reception that would have made Elvis all shook up with envy. Dozens of Astros fans packed a midtown restaurant on Wednesday night for a glimpse of Astros right fielder George Springer, who was the guest on the team's weekly call-in radio show, Astroline.

Springer, coming off a season in which he hit .276 with 16 homers and 41 RBIs in 102 games, is one of the team's up-and-coming stars and, judging by the throng of fans at Plucker's Wing Bar, one of the most popular players as well. The 25-year-old signed a steady stream of autographs -- including his 2014 Sports Illustrated cover appearance -- while talking to host Steve Sparks on the program.

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"It's awesome," Springer said. "It's been fun."

Springer spent much of his offseason in Houston in between a trip home to his native Connecticut for the holidays. No matter where he was, he was working out and trying to remain in tip-top shape in advance of Spring Training, which begins in six weeks.

"I'm ready to get going," he said. "We've got about six more weeks before we start going, and I'm itching to go."

Springer has 180 Major League games under his belt, but has yet to put a full season together because of injury. He missed most of the second half in 2014 with a quad injury, and last year broke a bone in his wrist after he was hit by a pitch thrown by Kansas City's Edinson Volquez on July 1.

When he was asked what he'll have to do to try to stay on the field for the entire season, Springer didn't hesitate.

"Don't get hit," he said with a laugh. "The most important thing is to prepare my body to play and do anything I can."

When healthy, Springer is a dangerous presence in the Astros' lineup, along with Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Colby Rasmus, Evan Gattis and Carlos Gomez. Springer posted career highs in hits, runs, doubles, walks, steals, batting average, on-base percentage and OPS last year, and his 36 career homers are a club record through 180 games.

The Astros, of course, are expected to contend in the American League once again this year, and Springer expects big things from his team.

"It will be fun," he said. "To see how we ended and know who we got now, I'm pretty sure everybody is getting ready to get started and it will be a great 2016."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.