Astros owner Jim Crane, who stopped by Osceola County Stadium on Sunday morning to address the team prior to its first full-squad workout, said that he is "leaning heavily" toward having new uniforms in time for the 2013 season and the switch to the AL.
Major League Baseball has been working with the Astros on uniform designs, and Crane said he wants to get input from his staff and even get some fans involved before choosing the new threads. Crane said the team has to have its plans submitted to baseball by May 1, but nothing will be made public until after the season.
Crane has previously said the name of the team will not be changed.
"Our feel on it is this is going to be a great year with the transition, and we're going to have a lot of fun seeing some of the old teams and some of the new teams again," Crane said. "We'll be the only team [that will] see every [other] team in baseball the next two years. If change is going to be made, certainly next year going to the American League is going to be our transition, and we're leaning heavily that way."
Sunday marked Crane's second appearance at spring camp, and he plans to return a few more times before camp breaks next month. He was joined on this trip by principal investor Bill Morgan and team president and CEO George Postolos.
"Today was a special day, standing in front of all those guys," Crane said about talking to the team.
The Astros, who are celebrating the franchise's 50th anniversary this year, haven't had a major change in their uniform design since the team moved to what is now known as Minute Maid Park in 2000. Crane didn't drop any hints about any designs or color schemes.
"We can't really come out with a uniform until the season is over," he said. "All that -- the branding on the logo -- has to be submitted, and once we get all that through them, we'll follow the guidelines and rules. You probably won't see anything until after the season."
The potential for new uniforms in 2013 is the latest in a long line of changes the club has experienced since the end of last season.
Since Crane officially took control of the club in November, the Astros have announced they are changing leagues and had a massive overhaul of their baseball operations department, with Jeff Luhnow, St. Louis' former vice president for scouting and player development, taking over as general manager in December.
"There's so much change that's already gone on here and so much change that seems like is going to take place, it's almost like, 'Why not change the uniforms?'" outfielder Brian Bogusevic said.
Crane talked to the players Sunday about his baseball background, reminding them he was an accomplished pitcher at Central Missouri. He stressed teamwork and dedication to their jobs while talking to the team along with Luhnow and manager Brad Mills.
"We're trying to get on a theme that's focused on youth, backing the [manager] up and being responsible for everything they do," Crane said. "Everyone in the room feels there's a lot of opportunity, and the message is consistent between and the [manager] and myself. We're on the same page."
Whether his message was well received remains to be seen.
"It was real good to hear," Bogusevic said. "It was pretty general because there was a lot he had to cover in a short time. It was good, it was very positive. He talked about his expectations for us and the organization and what he expects out of everybody from top to bottom."
"You've got a lot of guys staring a hole in you, and you don't know if it's sinking in or not," Crane joked.
But he was serious about his message.
"If you have everybody understanding what you're trying to do and how you want to run things, they'll either get in line or they won't be on the team," Crane said. "That message was loud and clear. There needs to be consistency, unity, and we want the players supporting each other and the coaches supporting the players, and we'll stay very focused on that."
Crane, CEO and president of Crane Capital Group, Inc., and owner of Champion Energy Services, has been hard at work in the past few months with the Astros, pushing season-ticket and suite sales, as well as developing a local parks development project. He'd previously announced some ticket prices would be lowered and beer prices dropped for 2012.
"We got in late [in the offseason] and had a lot of work to do, and we've kind of divided up the task," he said. "I'm staying focused on what I can help with. George is handling a lot of other stuff, and certainly Jeff's staff is down here working hard with the folks that he's added. We've got all hands on deck. I'll fade more into the sunset here when the season gets started."