Pitchers and catchers for the Arizona Diamondbacks begin their second day of workouts at Tucson Electric Park. Position players are not required to be in camp until February 23. That being said, many of the Diamondbacks players have arrived early to begin workouts.
Given the dismal year the 2009 season was it is refreshing to see so many players reporting early to begin working out. After getting settled in the clubhouse, players begin to file out onto the field for drills, hitting, and fielding.
The first few days of Spring Training are always great. After a long winter of working out in dreary gyms scattered across the country it gives you a chance to get back to familiar surroundings. It’s also great to see your teammates some of whom you have not seen since last October.
One of the other aspects of spring that I looked forward to was breaking in a new baseball glove. Over the course of a season a baseball player will form a strong relationship with his mitt. I remember during my playing days I would come into each spring with a new glove.
It was my way of starting anew. I could forget all of the balls that somehow fell out of the pocket or the balls I didn’t get to that I always blamed my glove for. There is something about a new stiff glove and the time it takes to get it to form around your hand.
Much like me the glove started off extremely stiff the first few days of practice. It didn’t bend the way it should and never seemed to close the way I wanted. But after some oil and a few deep massages it would soften up and begin to resemble a baseball glove.
Different people have different ways of breaking in a glove. As a kid we probably all stuck a baseball in the glove, wrapped it up with a piece of rope or twine and set it under our mattress to let gravity do its thing. The problem with using this method was that we were rarely heavy enough to really make a difference.
Another approach commonly used especially in the minor leagues is the water method. The glove is soaked in a bucket of water for an hour then you put it on your hand then beat the crap out of it with a bat. This method is great for working out your frustrations but missing the mitt and hitting your wrist is not exactly the best feeling in the world.
I don’t like the water method as it tends to break down the leather and over time the glove seems to wear out faster. Considering the amount of time you put into getting used to a new glove, the last thing you want to do is repeat the process especially during the season.
It’s not just flattening the glove though; ball players go to great lengths forming the glove into a specific shape. The pocket has to be just right and the heel needs to hinge just the way you want it to if you want confidence in the glove.
So for me it is the tried and true method of rubbing oil into the leather and working with it day in and day out making sure it fits just the way I like it. There is something about the smell of leather, oil, and freshly cut grass that reminds me of spring and the ritual of breaking in a new glove.
Over the course of the long baseball season some extra time taken up front working with a new mitt will pay dividends. If nothing else it reminds us of our childhoods and the love we had for the game of baseball and what having a new glove meant.