The beginning of Spring Training is a time when the baseball world promises change. Hurlers add new pitches in their repertoire. Managers vow that their teams will run the bases more. And in an annual miracle, hundreds of players simultaneously show up in the best shape of their lives.

For Boston Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas, this Spring Training is about unveiling a novel sense of style.

After arriving in camp and chatting with the Boston media, Casas showed off the new look he promised to rock at Fenway Park this summer: red fingernail polish and white painted toenails.

Suffice it to say, Casas’ nails are not typical Spring Training subject matter. They’re also great for the game.

For one thing, they look excellent. Casas’ red nails are really going to pop when set off against the classic bright white of the Red Sox home uniforms. Adding glitter to one finger on each hand is a delightful extra bit of zazz.

Casas choosing to zhuzh his middle fingers is also a nice tribute to the favorite digit of Boston sports fans, especially when the New York Yankees are in town.

But more importantly, Casas proudly showing off his painted fingernails is the latest example of how the trend of players feeling free to express their personalities makes baseball a more compelling and welcoming game.

It’s hard to imagine a player flaunting colorful fingernails in MLB of years past. No doubt, scores of crusty old baseball fans have seen Casas’ look on Twitter and grumbled, “Back in my day, Carl Yastrzemski never woulda painted his nails before a game…”


But Yastrzemski also played in an era where players were considered hot dogs if they smiled after a home run; Doing so earned them a fastball aimed at their forehead.

I’m going to take the controversial stance that nail polish makes baseball a better game than attempted battery.

As players have found the freedom to share more of themselves with the fans, some of them have also begun to step outside the stereotypical “testosterone-fueled jock” image of masculinity that the game has embraced in the past.

Casas’ fingernails are right in line with Joc Pederson famously donning a pearl necklace during the Atlanta BravesWorld Series run in 2021, and Cardinals hitting coach Turner Ward planting a kiss on outfielder Lars Nootbar’s cheek to celebrate the player’s birthday in 2022.

In each example, these are straight men feeling comfortable enough to step outside the game’s rigidly defined roles for how athletes should look and act. By doing so, they add color (literally in Casas’ case) to a game that has sometimes felt suffocated by tradition.

Most important, each one has helped fuel a greater sense of inclusion within baseball culture.

Anderson Comas coming out publicly as gay this week with the full support of the White Sox organization is the latest example of the great things that can happen when players like Casas and Pederson signal that it’s OK to be yourself within a baseball clubhouse.

As if to underscore the spread of this phenomenon further, consider New York Mets outfielder Mark Canha’s joyful exclamation in response to Comas coming out:

Of course, this is not to say that a bit of Sally Hansen Rhapsody Red or serving Barbara Bush realness in the Fall Classic is going to instantly make Major League Baseball a fully LGBTQ-inclusive league.

But each time a player steps outside the rigid definition of masculinity, it opens that window for inclusion just a bit further, making it more and more normalized for players like Comas to live their truths and for allies like Canha to express unequivocal support.

That’s the best kind of statement your nails can make.