March 10th, 2014

The story behind Rajai Davis’ oven mitt

If you watched the Tigers on television today, or if you’ve been to a Tigers game this spring, and you haven’t seen much of Rajai Davis the last couple years, you might be wondering why he has an oven mitt on his left hand.

That’s OK. He hears it all the time. He laughs about it, too.

“Yeah, it’s good for baking,” he said Monday. “Baking on the bases.”

Not surprisingly, it’s a protective glove for his left hand. It keeps him from jamming a finger sliding into a bag, and it also gives him some padding over his hand and his wrist in case an infielder steps on his hand as he’s sliding in. He has worn one since at least 2012 to protect his hands.

Other players have worn one after injuring fingers or wrists. Davis said he adopted it after he had a close call and saw someone else suffer a far worse fate.

“I watched a guy stealing and go in with his hand and break his finger,” Davis said. “I saw that and said that’s not going to happen to me. So I started wearing that.”

The lack of fingers on the glove prevent him from jamming any of them when he slides. The length of it, which completes the oven mitt look, protects his wrist. The combination gives him some peace of mind being aggressive on the basepaths.

The last couple years, Davis had a blue version that matched the blue on Toronto’s jersey. This year’s sliding glove is much darker, almost black.

“It’s pretty protective,” he said. “It’s pretty good. It’s not too hard. It’s pliable. It gives. I mean, it’s big, not like some of the other ones you have, though.”

There is some regulation, by the way, as to how long such a glove can be. Add too much padding, and it gives him an extra inch or two, or maybe more, to beat a tag. So a lot of the padding goes on top of the fingers, not beyond it.

“This one’s official,” he said with a big smile.

Monday: Tigers at Cardinals (on tee vee!)

If you’re around a TV today with Fox Sports Detroit, you get what is probably your first look at the new-look Tigers this afternoon. You also get a decent number of regulars to watch today, including Miguel Cabrera, Alex Avila, Nick Castellanos and Rajai Davis. You also get Max Scherzer on the mound for around 60 pitches as he stretches out his arm.

Casey Crosby is scheduled for an inning as he makes his first outing of the spring. At this point, the key with him is simply getting his work in. We’ll see what he can add to the lefty relief mix from there.

Keep an eye on Steven Moya, who gets the start in right field. I’ve written a little bit about him already this spring, and I’ll have more on him later today. He’s a big (6-foot-7) outfielder with a big swing, but when he hits the ball, he hits it hard somewhere.

If you’re living outside of Michigan or Northwest Ohio, you can watch the game online at MLB.TV or listen on MLB Gameday Audio.

TIGERS

  1. Rajai Davis, LF
  2. Ezequiel Carrera, CF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, DH
  4. Alex Avila, C
  5. Don Kelly, 1B
  6. Steve Lombardozzi, SS
  7. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  8. Steven Moya, RF
  9. Danny Worth, 2B

P: Max Scherzer, Kyle Lobstein, Casey Crosby, Jose Ortega, Blaine Hardy, Melvin Mercedes

CARDINALS

  1. Matt Carpenter, 3B
  2. John Jay, RF
  3. Matt Holliday, LF
  4. Matt Adams, 1B
  5. Yadier Molina, C
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  7. Mark Ellis, 2B
  8. Peter Bourjos, CF
  9. Daniel Descalso, DH

P: Shelby Miller, Randy Choate, Sam Freeman, Tyler Lyons, Keith Butler, Pat Neshek, Lee Stoppleman

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