SARASOTA, Fla. — He looked into his locker, first at the bright orange jersey and then to his white baseball pants. Finally, he picked up the hat — also that radiant orange — and then began his analysis of the new jerseys Major League Baseball has unveiled this season.

“I think that the performance wear might feel nice,” one veteran position player said, “but the look of it is like a knockoff jersey from T.J.Maxx.”

Around Baltimore’s clubhouse Friday morning, the reactions were much the same. The Baltimore Banner spoke to three pitchers and one position player about their reactions to MLB’s new Nike Vapor Premier jersey, which has drawn criticism from players across the league. They were developed, according to a news release, to “improve mobility, moisture management and fit, while keeping sustainability in mind — bringing inspiration and innovation to athletes.”

The Orioles will wear jerseys and pants with the same material and cut as part of their home, road, alternate and City Connect uniforms this season.

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To players, they are “lighter. And that’s not necessarily a positive,” one Orioles veteran pitcher said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid possible backlash from the league office. According to The Athletic, the MLB players’ union is collecting feedback from players and sharing with the league.

The complaints range from the pant sizing to the baggy sleeves and the curved lettering of their last names. When pressed on the issue Thursday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the jerseys “have been tested more extensively than any jersey in any sport.” They were worn at last year’s MLB All-Star Game in Seattle, and Manfred noted the feedback then was “universally positive from the players.” The new uniforms are designed by Nike and manufactured by Fanatics.

“I think, after people wear them a little bit, I think they are going to be really popular,” Manfred added.

That could be the case. For the moment, however, the look and feel have grated some players around the league and on the Orioles.

“The fit and finish of them is just not as good as what they were last year,” the first veteran Orioles pitcher said. “I think one of the things that comes down to the jerseys is they’re a different color this year. They’re like a brighter orange. You can even see it in the hats — you can see how much brighter this one is. And so you look like a pumpkin when you’re out there. But overall, as far as the jerseys go, they’re certainly not my favorite. I think the problem kind of lies more in the pants, as well, because the pants are also new.

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“Whatever they are, they aren’t that great,” the veteran pitcher continued. “I don’t enjoy them, really. They get the job done. But I’m more concerned for the position players, because they’re — it’s a really thin material. So the only thing these things may — may — have over last year’s stuff is they’re slightly more breathable. And, honestly, I’m going to trade that in all day, every day, for the jerseys and pants we had last year. I’m not a fan of them, and I think that’s pretty much the consensus, too.”

A second veteran Orioles pitcher, however, is reserving some of his judgment until he wears the new uniforms in a game.

“It’s tough to tell in catch play and warmups,” the second veteran pitcher said. “It’s really when you get into the games and you’re sweating in them, then throwing six or seven innings, you know right away how they’re going to feel. For what I threw in the bullpen yesterday, it felt fine. We’ll see how it goes.”

A third pitcher, a less-established hurler now with the Orioles, said the sleeves bothered him during his bullpen session Thursday. The sleeves on the jerseys last year, he said, fit his arm well. Now, the pitcher said, the sleeves are baggy.

They bunched up when he threw, leading him to fold up the sleeves between some pitches.

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“That, and they came untucked a lot yesterday,” the third pitcher said. “I was running, and it was, like, starting to come out. I was like, ‘OK, that’s going to be a problem.’”

The pants are a particular sticking point to many.

In past years, they were customized for each player. The veteran position player recalled how there were “15 different numbers attached to it based on those measurements.” Now, they come in stock sizes of length and width.

“My pants don’t fit,” the veteran position player said. “The performance fabric? I can get down with that. It’s nice. It’s more of, since Day 1 of my very first big league camp, when I was slated to go to A-ball, they took measurements and made the pants exactly how I wanted them. I don’t think I’ve changed my pants for eight years. The same. I think that’s going to be the hardest thing, adjusting to different sizing. I think at the end of the day they can make the names and the logos look better. That’s not hard. I think the biggest thing for me is just getting the sizing right.”

The third pitcher added: “I like that the pants are tapered, but they don’t have customizable, shorter legs. They’re like, ‘Here’s the length that we’ve got. You’re not that length? Sorry about it.’”

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And the orange hat with an orange jersey?

“We look like a highlighter sometimes,” the third pitcher said, laughing. “If you wanted to see us from down the street, you could.”

Baltimore Banner reporter Danielle Allentuck contributed to this story.

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

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