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Nike, Fanatics drawing early criticism as MLB jerseys debut at spring training sites

BOSTON -- Major League Baseball has an early controversy of sorts bubbling up at spring training sites in Florida and Arizona, as the new jerseys being produced by Nike and Fanatics are drawing quite a bit of criticism from fans and players alike.

With Nike making some major redesigns to MLB jerseys this year -- some cosmetic, some in the name of performance -- the early reviews are ... not good.

And according to Stephen J. Nesbitt of The Athletic, the issues have "prompted players to take their displeasure to their union, and the MLBPA is now involved in relaying the players' concerns."

Among the complaints in the visual department are smaller letters on the nameplate, a steeper arch on those nameplates, varying color shades, and a lower-than-normal MLB logo.

The visual complaints may be more of an issue for fans. Players likely care more about fit and performance.

Nesbitt quoted Angels reliever Carlos Estevez, who complained that he's now unable to get customized pants. The report indicated that in the past, pitchers "had several measurements taken for their pants, which were then tailored." But that process has been "simplified," with the tailoring process no longer being in play.

"When I wear my pants, I feel like I'm wearing someone else's pants," Estevez said in the story.

Uni Watch's Paul Lukas clarified that while Fanatics is manufacturing, the new design changes come from Nike. When rolling out the new jerseys, Nike shared comments from Nike-sponsored athletes -- Nolan Arenado, Adley Rutschman, Ronald Acuna Jr. -- praising them for their comfort, breathability, and lightness. As players hit the fields in the coming days and weeks in spring training workouts and then games, those reviews will be put to the test.

Whether any changes or tweaks are made will likely depend on how the rollouts go with pitchers and catchers and then position players. Perhaps after an adjustment period, players will adapt to the new jerseys and pants. The early returns, though, indicate that might not be the case.

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