New faces in new places change look of camps

New faces in new places change look of camps

The images of an offseason of change are burned into the mind's eye:

Jose Reyes beaming that big smile of his at the Winter Meetings and placing a Marlins cap on top of dreadlocks he'd soon kiss goodbye. Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson wearing the haloed "A" for the first time at a press conference/pep rally at Angel Stadium. Prince Fielder and his son Jaden chatting softly about their future in Detroit with Dad wearing an Old English "D" on his cap.

Now, finally, we can start seeing players who changed teams this winter actually playing baseball in their new uniforms. With pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training this week, wearing those new uniforms will start to mean something more than a photo op.

There are, or will be soon, new faces all over Arizona and Florida, and each arrival carries with it new meaning not only for the player but for his new team as well.

Here's a sampling of what can be expected now that uniform changes across baseball have moved from the press room to the diamond.

Jose Reyes is one of a number of Marlins acquisitions donning new uniforms this Spring Training, but the biggest question in Marlins camp might be more about his talented infield neighbor, Hanley Ramirez. Having been shifted to third base to accommodate Reyes' arrival, a common theme in some big changes this offseason, Ramirez will have to show he can make the transition, especially after missing the last two months of 2011 because of shoulder surgery.

Meanwhile, Mark Buehrle -- whose uniform change especially stands out for the stark contrast between his old White Sox duds and the carnival colors he'll wear with the Marlins -- joins fellow starter Carlos Zambrano and closer Heath Bell in Marlins camp. The left-hander figures to make a significant impact on the Miami staff. Yet, the biggest key to Miami's pitching fortunes probably rests on the rehabilitated right shoulder of young ace Josh Johnson.

When Prince Fielder sports a Tigers uniform, he'll be in Florida for Spring Training for the first time -- but it won't be the first time he's worn a Tigers uniform on a field. Here's a guess that we'll be seeing those archives of Prince taking batting practice at Tiger Stadium as a kid a few times more as he arrives in Lakeland as an adult.

Lest we forget, Fielder's arrival led to another position switch -- the one sending Miguel Cabrera across the diamond to third base.

Naturally, the media throng was expected to be thick when Albert Pujols took to the fields in Tempe, Ariz., for the first time, wearing a red-and-white uniform that looks familiar but is quite different. Beyond bringing his superstar presence to the Angels' lineup and the American League at large, Pujols' arrival also pushes another player to third base. Young slugger Mark Trumbo (29 homers as a rookie) has to move across the diamond, and we'll have to see how that goes this spring, along with the progress of first baseman Kendrys Morales, who hasn't played a game since May 29, 2010.

The reality of C.J. Wilson joining an already stacked Angels rotation will be made quite evident in the inevitable early-camp photos and videos of Wilson yucking it up while stretching in the outfield with Jared Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. The foursome should gel quickly into one of the game's finest.

On the other side of the Valley of the Sun, the sight of Yu Darvish in a Rangers uniform will remind the two-time defending American League champions that they still have ample pitching promise. However, it's veteran closer Joe Nathan's arrival that has more immediate impact, because it allows Neftali Feliz to give starting another chance, this time without the fallback plan.

Speaking of changing pitchers in the ninth, Jonathan Papelbon already has his red socks on, but they now belong to the Phillies, after leaving closing duties in Boston to Andrew Bailey, acquired from the A's. As Spring Training rolls along, Red Sox fans will get a glimpse of whether Bailey and Mark Melancon can close the door as well as Papelbon did the past six years -- his final outing notwithstanding.

Along with the international arrival of Darvish, the curiosity about Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes wearing an A's uniform will be enticing. But might that arrival be trumped by Manny Ramirez in the green and gold? Either way, A's camp will be a lot more interesting than it appeared it was going to be a couple of weeks ago.

And that's just a sampling. There are so many new faces in new places, there's a lot to track as Spring Training moves along.

First impressions will be made by Michael Pineda in Yankees pinstripes and Jesus Montero behind the mask for the Mariners that will begin to determine which team got the edge in the winter swap of young talent. With the glaring absence of Pujols in Cardinals camp, the presence of Carlos Beltran still figures to provide the defending World Series champions a solid middle-of-the-order bat, which we'll see develop in Grapefruit League action. (The Adam Wainwright addition after a year on the shelf won't hurt, either.)

All over the fields of Spring Training, there are players we've become accustomed to seeing in different duds, from the Brewers' Aramis Ramirez and the Rockies' Michael Cuddyer to the Reds' Mat Latos and Ryan Madson and the Pirates' A.J. Burnett, to name a few.

New managers will be running their camps in different uniforms, although Ozzie Guillen wore a (very different) Marlins uniform previously as a coach and the Cardinals' Mike Matheny and the White Sox's Robin Ventura wore theirs as players. Dale Sveum puts the Cubs' "C" on his forehead for the first time and Bobby Valentine dons his third uniform as a big league manager as he takes over the Red Sox clubhouse.

With Spring Training under way, the new uniforms are no longer for posing. This isn't a news conference or a fan fest. This is baseball. This is why they put on the uniforms in the first place.

For the guys who are wearing different ones than they were at the end of last season, the uniform change is now for real.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.