GOODYEAR, Ariz.- Homer Bailey says it’s like Christmas when Robert Rusch comes to Reds spring training camp.
Rusch fits Bailey and a dozen other Reds for their new baseball gloves.
"Every year I get a new one. I'm kind of spoiled," the veteran Reds pitcher said Monday. “Nonetheless. It's a good day, to get a new glove and break it in, and go through the whole process."
Rusch is not Santa, but he’s close. He’s the territory manager for Wilson Sporting Goods, and he knows what the players want.
"It's personal, man. It's like your baby,” Rusch said about the gloves he brings them. “These guys make a living being able to catch the ball. Obviously, having the glove that works for them is at the top of the list for being successful on the field."
For nearly 60 years, Wilson's A2000 has been the gold standard.
"I’ve always used this model,” said Bailey. “It's what comfortable to me."
The A2000 is fully customizable to the web, size and color and comes with a price tag upwards of $550.
Bailey said the custom fit helps him
"For whatever reason, I like the dial. It fits your hand,” Bailey said. “There's times when I'm not doing much I can loosen it. The glove is really loose. During the game, I have it as tight as I can because it's like an extension of my hand
For rookie infielder Nick Senzel, the switch from third base to shortstop means getting a smaller glove. But he won't change what's stitched inside it.
"The only thing special is I have my dad's initials and my sister’s initials. I have it tattooed," Senzel said. That guarantees that Jeff and Madison Senzel are right with Nick on the field.
When it comes to breaking in a glove, each player has his own ritual. Some even smack the glove with a bat.
"I can usually get mine shaped the way I want to in a day or two,” said Bailey. “Warming up before the games, it'll help it out. I like mine pretty stiff."
When it’s all said and done, getting a new glove makes Bailey and the others feel like kids on Christmas.
"It's a cool experience for all of us," Bailey said.