Craftspeople from Wilson Sporting Goods take their road show to Dunedin, Fla., where the Toronto Blue Jays train, to deliver this season's ball glove shipment.
The Jays vignette takes a peek at first baseman Adam Lind, right-hander Drew Hutchison and catcher Dioner Navarro. Lind's mitt preferences are simple, while Navarro says he likes a glove with a bigger webbing, which offers the pitcher a larger target and gives him a better fighting chance to catch foul tips. Navarro also might have to catch knuckleballer R.A. Dickey this season, so a custom over-sized knuckleball glove is on the way, he said. In the meantime, Navarro plays catch with his 15-year-old son, who has been throwing a knuckler for two years, in order to practice receiving the pitch.
The most intriguing discussion happens with Hutchison, who talks about the "pro sleeve" on his glove. Like many pitchers, not just ones in the majors, Hutchison has an issue with the index finger on his non-throwing hand. He feels the need to hide it, but he doesn't like putting it in his glove. Sounds like a conundrum. Ah, but there's a solution:
"I use the 'pro sleeve' to hide my finger. That way, I don’t tip (a pitch) or give anything away. It’s always really comfortable in my hand, which makes it easy to field any come-backers."
Fans probably have noticed that many pitchers at every level of baseball wear their gloves with the index finger sticking out. There are a few reasons they do this:
• Control. They feel more in control of the glove with the loose finger on top.
• Comfort. It just feels more comfortable.
• Safety. Or the perception of it. Another layer of leather between the finger and a line drive might help prevent a broken finger, which the index might be more vulnerable to on a line drive.
There's another factor: Other pitchers do it, so, when in Rome!
But, as Hutchison points out, subconscious wiggling can inadvertently inform the other team what kind of pitch is coming, so glove makers have added the finger sleeve so a pitcher can have a relatively free index finger while still being able to hide it. If your glove doesn't come with a pro sleeve, you can go Rube Goldberg-style and just attach a piece of leather to it.
It makes you wonder, though: Are there pitchers who like to have their fingers outside of the sleeve, too, and do they need to make another sleeve for that? Where does it end?!
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