Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

New Gloves Are a Rite of Spring

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

New Gloves Are a Rite of Spring

Article excerpt

TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees first base coach Mick Kelleher has long kept a favorite Rawlings baseball glove in his Southern California home. On occasion, Kelleher will take it off a shelf and slip it on his left hand -- still a perfect fit 30 years after his final game.

A major league infielder for 11 seasons, Kelleher used that same glove for 10 of them.

Ichiro Suzuki cycled through 10 outfielder's gloves during the 2012 season alone.

"You could say you're married to your bats," Suzuki said through an interpreter. "But a glove, maybe it's like changing girlfriends over the years."

Because of improvements in design and feel, "a glove is not like a bat, where I've had the same model for 21 years," said Suzuki, who has used his current Mizuno model glove for the past three seasons.

But anything handmade has its subtle variations and Suzuki will try out seven of those gloves this camp, weeding down to two game- ready gloves to start the season.

Gold Glove winners Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano commonly use two gloves in a season, but they won't take last year's glove into the new season.

Suzuki and Kelleher -- who also serves as the Yankees infield instructor -- might be at shelf-life extremes but there's one familiar glove story each spring training: someone's either breaking one in or trying out a new model.

And the methods for making a glove game ready are as wide as the assortment of brands on players' hands.

For instance, Chris Stewart shuns the oils or creams fellow catchers might apply to a new glove.

"I just play catch with it and throw it in my bag," said Stewart, who might take up to a full season of catching bullpen sessions to break in a new gamer. "I like my glove really broken in. A good soft glove that most guys would maybe throw away, that's game ready for me."

Suzuki's gloves arrive from the manufacturer already soft and pliable.

"He could use it in a game that night right out of the box," Brett Gardner said of the 10-time Gold Glove winning Suzuki, who normally goes through one glove per month during the season. …

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