ARLINGTON, Texas — After smashing his first big-league homer May 1, Julio Rodriguez just kept on hitting and producing for the Mariners for the rest of the month.

On Friday, the Mariners’ precocious outfielder was rewarded for that performance in May being named the American League rookie of the month by Major League Baseball.

“It’s pretty cool just to be recognized for your performance, but it’s definitely not something that I see as, ‘Oh, I was working towards this,’ ” Rodriguez said before Friday’s game at Globe Life Field. “It’s just kind of something that happened because of the performance. But it feels really good.”

Rodriguez’s first home run, a 450-foot blast to left field at Loan Depot Park in Miami, is the longest by a Mariners player this season. It springboarded him to a month in which he started and finished all 28 of Seattle’s games in the month. He posted a .309/.339/.527 slash line in 115 plate appearances with 34 hits, including four doubles, a triple, six home runs, 17 RBI, five walks, 29 strikeouts and five stolen bases.

“I started getting it going from that first homer,” Rodriguez said. “I always believed it was going to turn. I put in a lot of work in the offseason, preparing myself, and I knew that work was not going to fail me, and that’s why we are here right now.”

At age 21, he is the youngest Mariners player to win the award.


Rodriguez is the fifth Mariners player to win rookie-of-the-month honors. He joins Ichiro (four times in 2001), Rafael Soriano (August 2003), Michael Pineda (April 2011) and Mike Carp (August 2011).

“It’s well deserved,” manager Scott Servais said Friday. “He’s had an outstanding month. He kind of got it started over in Miami with that big home run over there to help us win that game, and he hasn’t backed off. He’s been very consistent at the plate. He brings his tool set every day. Whether it’s in the outfield, it’s running the bases or it’s just having good at-bats.”

Among AL rookies with at least 30 plate appearances in May, Rodriguez ranked among the league leaders in virtually every offensive category, including first in hits (34), tied for first in home runs (six), second in RBI (17), fourth in average (.309), tied for first in stolen bases (five) and first in wRC+ (156).

Rodriguez tallied nine multi-hit games and six games with three or more hits during May, becoming the first player age 21 or younger to tally at least that many games with three or more hits in a calendar month since Baltimore’s Manny Machado had seven in May 2013.

Is the rookie of the year award next for him? He’ll have tough competition from Houston’s Jeremy Pena and Cleveland’s Steven Kwan.

Rodriguez has played 50 games this season, posting a .272/.322/.424 slash line with nine doubles, a triple, six homers, 24 RBI, an MLB-leading 15 stolen bases, 13 walks and 60 strikeouts.


In an unfair comparison, Ken Griffey Jr. had a .290/.349/.506 slash line in 193 plate appearances in his first 50 games as a Mariners rookie with 59 hits, including eight doubles, 10 homers, 23 RBI, eight stolen bases, 16 walks and 34 strikeouts.

“Like all young players, all players really, he can be a little streaky,” Servais said of Rodriguez. “He’s gonna have great runs where he just tears it up for three or four days and then maybe cools off a little bit. But he’s learned a ton, and he continues to get better and learn. There’s still some mistakes once in a while. And that’s part of the growing process with young players. But I’m really, really happy where he’s at and how he continues to improve. He’s becoming a staple in our lineup.”

Wearing orange

As part of National Gun Violence Awareness Weekend, the Mariners and Rangers wore special T-shirts during pregame. Texas players wore maroon shirts with white lettering that said, “Robb Elementary School,” where the May 24 mass shooting took place in Uvalde, Texas.

Nearly all the Mariners players and coaches, including Servais, were wearing orange T-shirts (the color of anti-gun violence) that said “#WearOrange” on the front.

Why orange?

It started after Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed on a playground Jan. 21, 2013. After her death at age 16, Pendleton’s friends commemorated her life by wearing orange, which is the color hunters wear to protect themselves from other hunters.

The “Wear Orange” became an official day June 2, 2015, which would have been Pendleton’s 18th birthday. It has now expanded to a period of three days each year: National Gun Violence Awareness Day (the first Friday in June) and Wear Orange Weekend (the accompanying weekend).


“It’s just something to help create some awareness around a huge issue in our country,” Servais said. “I’m in full support of that, as are the Mariners.”

Servais has never been afraid to speak his mind about social issues when asked.

“It’s bigger than Major League Baseball, creating awareness,” Servais said. “Obviously, we are on a public platform. We are on TV and people follow us, the players and teams around social media. It’s really important. It’s a huge issue in our country right now. It’s not slowing down, it’s getting worse. So certainly we need legislators and people to step up and do the right thing, and hopefully they will.”