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Stewart nabs NL Rookie honors for July

Stewart top NL Rookie in July

Whether he was in the field or at the plate, Colorado third baseman Ian Stewart showed a flair for the spectacular in July.

Stewart's red-hot hitting and dazzling defense were acknowledged on Monday when Stewart was selected as Gillette's Rookie of the Month for July in the National League.

Stewart will receive a Rookie of the Month trophy, and Gillette will make a donation to a charitable organization in Stewart's name. The award comes after Stewart wore out NL pitchers in July and helped his own pitchers with some strong defensive work at third.

Although he didn't make his first appearance of the month until July 19, Stewart didn't require an adjustment process. He hit .432 in 44 at-bats and finished the month with 15 runs batted in. Stewart had a .519 on-base percentage and a .614 slugging percentage for the month, and was chosen for the rookie award over Florida right-hander Chris Volstad and Cubs catcher Geovany Soto.

Colorado manager Clint Hurdle was as impressed with Stewart's defense as his offense. When Stewart made seat-of-the-pants defensive plays at third after diving for grounders, Hurdle compared Stewart's ability to make that throw from a sitting position to former defensive stalwart Graig Nettles.

"Nettles was the guy that made that play that way -- very athletic," Hurdle said.

Stewart, a first-round selection in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, takes pride in being an all-around contributor.

"Not every night you can come out and get a bunch of hits or drive in a bunch of runs," Stewart said. "But if you can save a couple of runs or a couple of hits, some nights you'll trade that off," Stewart said.

Stewart had some strong competition for the July rookie honor.

Volstad played a big role in helping the Marlins hang around the top of the NL East in July. The right-hander went 2-1 with a 2.38 earned run average in three starts. His signature outing of the month came on July 11 when he worked 8 2/3 innings, allowing just five hits and one earned run in a 3-1 win over the Dodgers.

Soto, who won Rookie of the Month honors in April, continues to be a driving force for a Cubs team solidly entrenched atop the NL Central. Besides handling the Chicago pitching staff, Soto chipped in four homers and 11 RBIs in July.

The online fan voting at mlb.com/gillette represented 20 percent of the overall vote, with the remaining votes coming from team baseball writers and club broadcasters. Voters taking part in the monthly award process are automatically registered for a chance to go to one game during the World Series this October.

The American League winner for July was Texas first baseman Chris Davis, who hit eight homers and drove in 16 runs over 25 games. Davis got the nod over Oakland right-hander Brad Ziegler and White Sox second baseman Alexei Ramirez.

Balloting for the Rookie of the Month Award presented by Gillette begins exclusively at mlb.com/gillette during the first week of each month to determine the previous month's winners. The site lists nominees in both leagues as well as unique statistics, video clips and season-long editorial content built around the rookie theme.

Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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