Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson received a phone call Tuesday from his agent, Scott Boras, who didn't waste a moment before sharing the big news.
"You won the Gold Glove," Boras said.
Hellickson was stunned.
"(As a pitcher) you don't really have opportunities to make diving plays, Gold Glove plays, so I had no idea," Hellickson said a few hours later during a conference call.
Hellickson shared the 2012 Rawlings American League Gold Glove Award at pitcher with Jake Peavy of the Chicago White Sox.
In doing so, Hellickson became the fourth member of the Rays' organization and first pitcher to earn the prestigious fielding honor, joining first baseman Carlos Peña (2009), third baseman Evan Longoria (2009, 2010) and former left fielder Carl Crawford (2010).
Rays left fielder Desmond Jennings was a finalist, but the award went to Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals.
Hellickson, who won the 2011 American League Rookie of the Year Award, joins former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela (1982 National League Rookie of the Year, 1986 NL Gold Glove) as the only pitchers to win those two awards.
"We all take a great deal of pride in our fielding. We work on it all spring training. I think we all grew up playing the field as well. All of us would love to win this," Hellickson said. "We love competing fielding-wise as well as pitching-wise, too. It really hasn't set in. I wasn't really expecting it at all. It was pretty cool."
Rays manager Joe Maddon's goal is to have a Gold Glove-caliber fielder at each position. In fact, a replica Rawlings Gold Glove hangs in a case near Longoria's locker in the Rays clubhouse, a constant reminder of how important defense is to the Rays.
Ironically, during a season when the Rays finished last tied with Kansas City for last in the American League in fielding with a .981 fielding percentage, they had not one but two finalists for the Gold Glove.
Still, Hellickson said there is a measure of satisfaction that the newest name on the list of Rays Gold Glove winners belongs to a pitcher.
"We all work on our fielding all spring, take pride in it," he said. "Our team as a whole takes pride in our defense. It's an awesome award to win, especially with how hard we work on our defense and how much time we put into it."
The Gold Glove was first awarded in 1957. Hellickson is the first pitcher to win within his first three big-league seasons.
Hellickson and Peavy are the first players to share the award, though four outfielders received the award in the American League in 1985 and four from the National League were chosen in 2007.
This also is the third year in which Hellickson won a major postseason award. He was Baseball America's minor league player of the year and USA Today's minor league pitcher of the year in 2010, and the AL rookie of the year last season.
"I'd much rather been playing this last month," Hellickson said.
2012 GOLD GLOVE WINNERS
P —Jeremy Hellickson,TampaBayand Jake Peavy,ChicagoWhite Sox
C — Matt Wieters, Baltimore
1B — Mark Teixeira, N.Y. Yankees
2B — Robinson Cano, N.Y. Yankees
SS — J.J. Hardy, Baltimore
3B — Adrian Beltre,Texas
LF — Alex Gordon,Kansas City
CF — Adam Jones, Baltimore
RF — Josh Reddick,Oakland
P — Mark Buehrle,Miami
C — Yadier Molina,St. Louis
1B — Adam LaRoche, Washington
SS — Jimmy Rollins,Philadelphia
3B — Chase Headley,San Diego
LF — Carlos Gonzalez,Colorado
CF — Andrew McCutchen,Pittsburgh
RF — Jason Heyward,Atlanta