How many gloves does a player need? How do they break in a new glove? Is a glove a player’s best friend, or just a piece of leather in his locker? It all depends on who you ask — so we asked. We turned to seven Twins players to talk about their relationship with their gloves, and we got seven different responses. Some interesting excerpts can be found on this page, and go to startribune.com/sports to watch videos of each player telling his glove story.
Ervin Santana, P
One red, one blue. How does Santana decide which color glove to pick for a start? It might depend on the uniform the Twins are wearing the day he pitches. “Blue, and blue,” Santana said, while holding up his new blue leather. Santana’s gloves are “very good leather” and don’t need much breaking in. He’ll play catch on Day 1, and “the next day, they’re [ready] to pitch,” he said.
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Plouffe keeps it simple. The third baseman likes to play catch with a new glove in the warm weather at spring training to break in the leather. He has been scared away from riskier approaches. “I saw Alexi Casilla light his glove on fire in the microwave,” he said. Once it’s ready, Plouffe keeps his leather close to his heart. “Even if it’s bad to me one night, I’ll make sure I’ll give it some love.”
Kurt Suzuki, C
The veteran catcher likes a soft catcher’s mitt so he can get a good feel of the ball. He avoids lotions and oils to get his mitt ready, and instead relies on a lot of repetition and pounding to soften the leather. Once it’s ready, he shapes the pocket how he likes it: deep inside pocket and tight laces on the outside. The top priority, though, is softness. “I can really feel the ball coming in,” he said.
Torii Hunter, OF
A nine-time Gold Glove award winner, Hunter treats new leather like you treat leftovers: 90 seconds in the microwave. And that’s after a swim in the clubhouse whirlpool. Hunter’s unique and somewhat abusive breaking-in process, which also includes beating it with a ball and bat, takes about 48 hours. But if the glove survives all that, it gets to become the ultra-flexible tool on his left hand.
Aaron Hicks, OF
The young outfielder usually makes a midseason switch each year, breaking in a new “gamer” glove. “Midway through the season, I’ll have both gloves ready to go,” Hicks said. “If I want to continue to use the other one, I will, but if I feel like I need to make a change around midseason is when I switch to my other glove.” Hicks is tight with his gloves. “You care a lot about them,” he said.
Brian Dozier, 2B
When he’s not busy launching All-Star Game home runs or walk-offs at Target Field, the second baseman is one consistent glove owner. Dozier has been using the same type of glove since high school. “I’ve never ventured off to a different type of glove,” he said. After playing catch with a new mitt for about a month in Florida, Dozier has that season’s glove ready for Opening Day.
Chris Herrmann, C
Herrmann, who was recently sent to the minors, has been mainly a catcher this year but has played all over in the past, so he needs several varieties of leather. When he needed to turn to a teammate for advice on fielders’ gloves, he made a wise decision: He spoke to Hunter. To help break in his catcher’s mitt, Herrmann will get in his stance close to a pitching machine and let the machine beat it into shape.