Marte receives 'special glove' from Rawlings to honor defensive prowess
BRADENTON, Fla. — The glove was waiting at Starling Marte's locker the day he checked into Pirates spring training camp.
One of the clubhouse attendants already had taken it out of the box and removed the plastic wrapping. That's akin to ripping open somebody else's presents under the tree on Christmas morning, but Marte did not seem to mind.
He had been waiting for this particular glove for a long time.
“It's a special glove,” Marte said softly.
As usual, Rawlings custom made the mitt to Marte's specifications. It has two-tone (black and pale yellow) leather and bright yellow web lacing. His name and uniform number (6) are stitched prominently along the thumb.
It's pretty much the same type of glove Marte has used the past four years while patrolling left field at PNC Park.
Yet, in one aspect it is different from any glove Marte has ever used.
Look at the cloth patch on the wrist strap. Check out the oval with the Rawlings logo. See the color?
Gold. Rawlings reserves that ornamentation only for award winners.
“Now, people will know I've won a Gold Glove,” Marte said with obvious pride. “Every time they see it, they'll know.”
Marte got his first Gold Glove Award in November, besting Justin Upton of the San Diego Padres and Christian Yelich of the Miami Marlins. Marte was not nervous the night the winner was announced.
“I had a feeling I would win,” he said matter-of-factly.
Gee, you think? Marte led National League left fielders with a .995 fielding percentage, making one error in 196 chances. He also had 16 assists, the most by a Pirates outfielder since Jose Guillen has 16 in 1998.
“He is so fast,” right fielder Gregory Polanco said. “And his arm … unbelievable.”
Only the speediest guys in the game have the guts to test Marte's arm anymore.
“Now, they know,” Marte said, smiling. “They know how strong my arm is. Every time I have a chance to throw the ball, I want to make a good throw.”
Center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who earned his Gold Glove in 2012, was not surprised Marte turned up a winner.
“He's not a typical left fielder,” McCutchen said. “He has the arm of a closer, and his talent is through the roof. He's fast, and he can play whatever position you put him at out there. He covers a lot of ground and really uses that arm. Not much is falling when he's out there.”
Marte also was named Wilson's defensive player of the year for left field. The Fielding Bible lauded him as the best left fielder in the majors.
“I know I'm one of the best in left field,” Marte said. “When people tell me that, I feel good. I feel happy because I've worked hard for that.”
McCutchen doesn't want Marte to settle for just one Gold Glove. And both of them believe Polanco has the talent to win one, too, before long.
“My dream is to have all three of us win a Gold Glove,” McCutchen said. “I think we have the ability to do that.
“The more we play together, the more we learn each other out there, the better we're going to get. I'm looking forward to that.”
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.