"I TRIED to use batting gloves at the beginning of every spring training up until 1999," says Guerrero (currently hitting .309), one of a handful of major leaguers who bat bare-handed. "It just didn't feel good." While other Ungloved Ones may use pickle juice or rubbing alcohol to toughen their hands--the Giants' Moises Alou sprinkles urine on his--Guerrero does nothing special. "My hands got tough from pulling ropes tied to cattle when I was a kid [in the Dominican Republic]," he says.
Red Sox Catcher
MIRABELLI (.206) first took off the gloves while in Double A in 1996 and says batting bare-handed helps him get a better sense of the way he's hitting. "I can feel exactly where I hit the ball because of the sensitivity with the vibrations coming down the bat," he said. "I like the positive and negative reinforcements that I get from not wearing batting gloves. It lets you know if you hit it good or if you didn't, so you can make adjustments."
Diamondbacks Second baseman
AFTER SEEING teammate Mark Grace bat bare-handed in 2001, Counsell (.295) gave it a try; his knuckles have been naked ever since. "For me, it's more comfortable," said Counsell, who wears gloves during batting practice to prevent calluses. "I'm surprised more guys don't do it; a lot of people are looking for a better feel, and I think it does give you that feel. But I think batting gloves have become such a part of the uniform that [most] guys just never do it anymore."
Mets First baseman
MIENTKIEWICZ (.216) recalls a painful at bat during an early-season game at Yankee Stadium when he played for the Twins in 2003. "It was snowing, and I went out with batting gloves on," he said. "[Yankees catcher] Jorge Posada, who doesn't wear batting gloves, called me a choice word, and he got in my head. I took the gloves off, and I hit one off the end of the bat. [Posada] was laughing at me when I got to first because he saw how much pain I was in."
BRAD MANGIN (GUERRERO HEAD SHOT)
ROBERT BECK (GUERRERO HANDS)
DAMIAN STROHMEYER (MIRABELLI HEAD SHOT)
DAVID BERGMAN (MIRABELLI HANDS)
TWO COLOR PHOTOS
JOHN CORDES/ICON SMI (COUNSELL, 2)
BILL FRAKES (MIENTKIEWICZ HEAD SHOT)
CHRIS BERNACCHI/SPORTPICS (MIENTKIEWICZ HANDS)