That's just one reason that Boston's Dustin Pedroia is the American League Rookie of the Month for May. Pedroia started the month with a .172 average, but batted .415 over the month to increase his season average to .308. He also had a .600 slugging percentage in May.
After starting off the season in a slump, Pedroia entered Monday's game on a 13-game hitting streak, topped off by his three-run double in Sunday's game against the Yankees.
"I don't think you push a button. I think it's a process of a lot of hard work," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "When he was struggling, he didn't put his head down, he's got that fighter mentality. He goes to the cage every day. He had a lot of long sessions with [hitting coach Dave Magadan]. He got it in the cage, but he was having a hard time taking it to the field. Then it started translating into the game. You could see him getting more confident, which he should. [His] stride got a little less harsh."
Pedroia entered Monday's game hitting .336 with two home runs and 16 RBIs on the season. He's started 41 games this season at second base and has only committed two errors.
"I think we're at a good point right now," said Francona. "Pedroia got himself to a point where he's a key member of our team and he's not looking over his shoulder."
Anaheim's Reggie Willits finished one vote behind Pedroia in the balloting. Also receiving votes were last month's rookie winner, Hideki Okajima of the Red Sox; Travis Buck of the A's; Jeremy Guthrie of the Orioles and Brandon Morrow of the Mariners.
Pedroia and the National League Rookie of the Month, Houston's Hunter Pence, will receive specially designed trophies to commemorate their achievements.
Leslie Parker is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.