LAKELAND, Fla. -- Rajai Davis runs the basepaths with either reckless abandon or the courage of a cat burglar, depending on your outlook. Either way, he runs them with what looks like 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," Davis said. "Baking on the bases."
It's a customized protective glove that 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, such as Yankees speedster Brett Gardner, 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 of years, Davis had a blue version that matched the blue on Toronto's jersey. Once he signed with Detroit as a free agent in December, the Tigers athletic training staff obtained the make and model on the mitt -- yes, it's an actual item -- then contacted the manufacturer to get a navy blue model.
"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 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.