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New MLB jerseys drawing mixed reviews from players and fans – NECN

The reviews are in, and for the new MLB jerseys, they’re, well, mixed.

Spring training has begun, and with players and fans eager for the start of the new season, Major League Baseball and Nike last week announced details about the new jerseys — creating a stir on and off the field.  

They said that “the Nike Vapor Premier jersey was engineered to improve mobility, moisture management and fit, while keeping sustainability in mind — bringing inspiration and innovation to athletes.”

Along with the release came glowing reviews from All-Stars like Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman, who told MLB.com that the new jersey is “really going to make a difference during those hot summer games when I’m in full gear.” 

Other players had less praiseworthy opinions once they arrived at spring training. 

The Athletic reported Angels outfield Taylor Ward saying the new jersey “looks like a replica.” And an unnamed veteran for the O’s told the Baltimore Banner, “I think that the performance wear might feel nice, but the look of it is like a knockoff jersey from T.J. Maxx.”

Many online say the difference in the jersey can be seen clearly in the stitching, lettering and name sizes. 

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred responded to the backlash at last week’s media day.

“The jerseys are different. They’re designed to be performance wear as opposed to what has traditionally been worn, so they are going to be different. … I think that they’re going to be really popular,” he said.

While players continue to weigh in on their new gear, fans have noticed and shared their opinions with NBC News. 

Coral Gables Senior High School baseball player Brian Santana was asked to compare the old vs. new. “The material’s different. … I know from experience (the new jersey numbering) sometimes stick to your back and it’s sometimes uncomfortable, but sometimes (the old version numbering) cause more itchiness than these.” 

He did note the new material will create less sweat, ideal in the Miami summers. “I prefer performance over looks,” Santana said.

Siblings Laileyana and Ky Harris said the “texture is beautiful.” Laileyana called the fabric “breathable,” and when asked if they preferred the look of the new vs. old jersey, Laileyana said, “They look the same.”

Ky replied, “No comment.” 

Nike partnered with MLB in 2019, when they announced a 10-year deal reportedly valued at more than $1 billion, officially replacing Majestic Athletic, which had been the jersey manufacturer since 1982.

When asked by NBC News about the jersey backlash, Nike did not provide a formal statement, but the company noted it body-scanned “more than 300 MLB players to dial into the ideal fit” and that the Nike Vapor Premier fabric uses “Dri-Fit ADV technology to help ensure athletes stay cool all game long — which is needed during July double-headers.” 

The first 2024 spring training game is set for Thursday, when the Los Angeles Dodgers will take on the San Diego Padres in the Cactus League opener. But some players are hoping for a change before the official season starts, some even taking the issue to the MLB Players Association, according to The Athletic

The MLB Network’s Jon Morosi told NBC News, “Nike and Fanatics Group is going to come through spring training facilities in the weeks ahead and find ways to work around the margins and modify the jerseys.” 

After speaking with many MLB players, Morosi said, “My impression is that most players are on board,” adding, “MLB, Fanatics, Nike — they’re going to be open-minded to listening to the feedback to make it a better product because at the end of the day, they’re all have a very vested interest in the players feeling their best, feeling comfortable on the field, and certainly the fans liking what they’re buying as well. It’s a very important thing.”

Morosi noted that the jerseys are “one of the very rare products” in which the look, feel and texture matter to players and fans alike.

The new Nike Vapor Premier Limited Jersey — which the league describes as “inspired by the on-field jersey” — is already available at retailers for $175. The Elite Jersey — described as “authentic … as worn by players on-field” — is priced at $400, and the Game Jersey — the replica player jersey — will be available for fans to purchase in the near future, according to MLB and Nike.

Major League Baseball approved new rules for 2024 that include the widening of the runners lane and more changes to help speed up the pace of the game

This story first appeared on NBCNews.com. More from NBC News:

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