Early in the morning on a cool February day in Arizona, members of the Colorado Rockies gathered in the clubhouse at their Scottsdale spring training facility, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The Rockies haven’t made many changes to their brand since their inception in 1993, but this year, the lockers in that clubhouse are populated by jerseys reflecting a slightly different color than in years past. (We first reported on this back in January.)
“Last year it kind of looked blue,” two-time All Star third-baseman Nolan Arenado said. “We had to change it up.”
“The other one was blue. It was kind of weird,” said Adam Ottovino, who’s been with the Rockies since 2012. “This one, it’s very purple…. They wanted to make sure that it was really purple.”
Arenado and Ottovino’s assessments are not unusual. I spoke with eight players in the clubhouse that morning, and nearly all of them mentioned that the previous color looked blue, especially on television and online. Trevor Story, who made a splash as a rookie last season before being sidelined by injury, spoke for his teammates in assessing the new shade: “Once we saw, it was a little more purply, for sure,” he said.
Brand-new Rockies reliever Mike Dunn appreciated that the team committed to their signature color. “I like it, he said. “If you’re purple, be purple.” (In fairness, Dunn spent the last six seasons in Miami, so his eyes may be a bit burned out by all those Marlins art deco colors.)
It took some players time to get used to the new color, but now that they’ve played some games in them, they’re starting to adjust.
“It’s warming up to me. Early on when I first got here I was off them. I wasn’t about them,” Arenado said. “We’ve been wearing them the last week and I think our eyes have kind adjusted and we’re kind of locked in right now.”
DJ LeMahieu, who led the Majors in batting average last year, said simply, “I mean, it’s definitely different.”
Three-time All Star Carlos Gonzales, who told me laughingly that I was the third person to ask him about the new color and that some people make big deals out of everything, said, “I like it. I think it’s even better than the one we used to do before.”
Arenado is fielding more questions on the new color than most of his teammates because a report in a Denver publication suggested that the Rockies tweaked their color scheme to appease him as his free agency approaches. Arenado laughed off the suggestion: “I’ve never complained,” he said. “I’ve never really said anything, free agency or not.” (That said, he is not shy with his opinions on some of the Rockies’ uniform options. He prefers when the team wears its black-and-white pin stripes or black-sleeve jerseys.)
As you might expect with baseball players, in the end, the color of the uniform is not the most important point of discussion.
“It’s not really a big deal to us,” said Chad Qualls, who is playing with his ninth team in a career that started in 2004. “We don’t really talk about it.”
“If I have to wear any color, I’ll wear it. It’s baseball,” CarGo said. “You don’t really pay attention to the uniform. You just go out there and battle every day.”
And Arenado’s final take might be the most important bottom line on the new look: “I like them if we get more wins in them,” he said.