TAMPA, Fla. -- The aroma of new leather filled the hallway outside of the home clubhouse at George M. Steinbrenner Field early Sunday morning, announcing an event that each player looks forward to all winter long: Glove Day.
For the Yankees, it was not only the date of their first full-squad workout, but it was also an opportunity for players supplied by Wilson Sporting Goods to begin flexing the 2017 gear. One by one, they dug into a row of nine duffel bags with excitement, claiming their prizes.
"It's like Christmas all over again," said pitcher Adam Warren. "Especially with Wilson, they let you design your own gloves, so it's kind of interesting to see how they turn out. The hardest part is breaking them in, so now it's time for that."
Most of the orders were sent in weeks ago, with players booting up their home computers to log onto Wilson's website and test their creative limits. That ability to customize a glove is of great appeal to pro athletes, some of whom enjoy comparing the resulting products with each other.
Outfielder Clint Frazier opted for a bright red Wilson A2000 KP92, a cheeky nod to his flowing hair. Outfielder Billy McKinney said that he spent two days swapping designs around to get the right Yankees blue color scheme on his A2K 1799, then requested a Bible verse (Phillipians 4:13) to be stitched in.
"Usually I just put my name, but I figured I've got so many gloves with my name on it, I might as well put the Bible verse on it with my beliefs," McKinney said. "I actually like that. In the outfield I'll be able to look down and it'll keep me sane a little bit sometimes, because baseball can be hectic."
Left-hander Justus Sheffield also added a meaningful inscription to his A2000 1788A, which bears the initials of a close friend who recently was killed in an automobile accident.
"I just wanted to do something for him and have him with me when I'm out there on the mound," Sheffield said.
"It's been seven, eight years since I've used anything different," Headley said. "I don't need any flair, I don't need any color on it. I just want it to look the same, as long as it performs. The most important thing is the leather. If you have good leather, you can move it the way you want it, and it'll hold that shape."
The Wilson crew brings plenty of extras, which turned out to be fortunate in Headley's case. After a brief chat with manager Joe Girardi, Headley later returned to request a first baseman's glove (A2000 1617), saying that he wanted to be prepared for any late-game situations where the Yankees might move him across the infield.
Players could ask a clubhouse attendant to help get a glove ready for game action, but most think of it as an intensely personal ritual. That's why, whether it's first or third, Headley said that he would prefer to oil and thump the leather all by himself.
"Oh yeah; nobody is messing with my glove," Headley said.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.