Really, it has. Every time television cameras have zoomed in on Mize on the mound, Funkhouser’s name has been clearly visible on his glove. That’s because Mize has been using Funkhouser’s backup glove ever since umpires ruled Mize’s gray glove to be against regulation color during his June 15 start at Kansas City.
The situation began with a scramble at Kauffman Stadium. Umpires ruled Mize’s glove, which had faded from black to gray over time, was out of color compliance after examining it for foreign substances after his first inning. Mize didn’t bring another glove on the road trip, so he had to borrow somebody else’s.
Mize has a glove deal with Rawlings, so he needed to find a teammate who used the same brand of glove. Among Tigers right-handed pitchers who used Rawlings were José Ureña and Funkhouser, who had a light tan backup glove with him that had been broken in.
“Kind of a coincidence,” Funkhouser explained. “My gamer, I had used last year as well. That one carried over. Then, when I got a new glove this spring, I was just breaking that one in, just in case, or maybe if I ended up liking that one more. So I happened to have two that were ready, and he was able to use it.”
So while Funkhouser used his old glove from last year, Mize got essentially a brand-new, broken-in glove. And he pitched well with it, tossing 6 2/3 quality innings to beat the Royals.
Mize ordered two new gloves in an acceptable color shortly after that. But since they were customized and ordered around midseason rather than the usual offseason cycle, they took a little longer to deliver than simply grabbing a stock glove off the shelves. Once they arrived, they also needed to be broken in, a process that usually takes place in Spring Training.
“I said, ‘Hey, as long as you need it. I’ve got two gloves that look just like this. However long you need it, man, go ahead and use it,’” Funkhouser said.
That could be ending soon. Mize threw his between-starts bullpen session Wednesday afternoon at Comerica Park wearing one of his new gloves, this one in a reddish-brown color. Fittingly, Mize’s next start will take place this weekend in Kansas City, where the ordeal began last month.
For what it’s worth, Mize has gone 2-1 with a 3.45 ERA in six starts while wearing Funkhouser’s glove. He went 3-4 with a 3.44 ERA in 12 starts with his own glove.
Funkhouser, of course, keeps rolling. He entered Wednesday on a 15 1/3-inning scoreless streak, the longest by a Tiger this season. He’s the only Major League reliever to inherit at least 14 baserunners this season and not allow any to score. His perfect seventh inning in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Texas included two strikeouts and a fastball just shy of 98 mph.
Tigers reach deals with sixth-, seventh-, ninth-round picks
The Tigers agreed to terms on contracts with sixth-round Draft pick Austin Murr, seventh-rounder Brant Hurter and ninth-rounder Garrett Burhenn, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis.
Murr, a first baseman and outfielder from N.C. State, will get a $200,000 bonus. The Tigers are expected to use him primarily as an outfielder to begin his pro career.
Hurter, a lefty from Georgia Tech, agreed to a $241,000 bonus. The Tigers are hoping to see upside from the southpaw next year in his second season back from Tommy John surgery.
Burhenn, a right-hander out of Ohio State, agreed to a $160,800 bonus. The Buckeyes starter has a low to mid-90s fastball with good run along with a sweeping slider, a combination that could also work in relief.