Monday was the opening day for high school pitchers and catchers to throw and prepare for the upcoming baseball season. The recent warm weather gave coaches the option of taking their players outside for drills.

That’s unheard of in Maine as teams are accustomed to practicing in gyms for two to three weeks before they can get outside.

It was an unusual winter with minimal snow and recent prespring temperatures in the 60s and 70s.

With the warm temperatures predicted through the week, teams will get more than a cursory taste of the summer-like conditions.

“I’ve been coaching at Greely for 16 years and this the first time we’ve ever been outside on the first day,” said Rangers Coach Derek Soule.

Defending Class A state champion Cheverus stayed in the gym, but that didn’t stop Coach Mac McKew from reflecting on the possibilities.

“I can’t imagine getting outside this early,” he said. “It’s hard to fathom. If our field was a little drier, we would have gone outside. Parts of our outfield are still a little wet. The weather looks good so we’ll get outside at some point this week.”

The Rangers began their practice with stretching in the gym before heading to their baseball field at nearby Twin Brooks Recreation Area where they loosened their arms by doing long tosses and other drills in the outfield.

“This is awesome,” said Jonah Normandeau, a junior pitcher, who had a 4-1 record last season.

“It’s great to be on the grass. I’ve been thinking about this day for some time. After losing 1-0 to Waterville in the Class B state championship last season, we couldn’t wait to get started.”

For the last few seasons, pitchers and catchers get a head start on the rest of the team. The week is designed to strengthen their arms. Teams are allowed to have eight pitchers and two catchers at the workouts.

Many pitchers, like Normandeau, have thrown during the winter. As a result, they were able to put a little more zip on their throws.

“We do a little bit of throwing,” said Scarborough Coach Mike Coutts.

“We do conditioning drills to build up arms and also for core strength. We work on mechanics. The biggest thing is we don’t want anyone overthrowing.”

Like Cheverus, Scarborough stayed inside, but Coutts anticipates getting outside this week.

“Our field is still a little sloppy in the outfield and we have a brand new infield,” said Coutts.

“A lot of it depends on who’s taking care of the fields and if they allow you to get on.”

Whether or not some baseball or softball teams were outside Monday, it won’t be long before they are. That’s quite a departure from the norm.

“In 2001, the first time we got outside was for our first game,” said Soule.

“Our field still had snow so we played at Scarborough High.”

Soule is planning on conducting tryouts next week on the field. Other teams have similar plans. While coaches and players do their best to conduct drills in a gym, there’s nothing like real conditions, particularly when a coaching staff has to evaluate players and pick a team.

“The best we can do in our gym for a throw is 90 feet,” said Soule.

“Infielders might have a throw up to 120 feet outside depending on where they are. We can hit in a cage inside, but it doesn’t compare to hitting live pitching outside. And how can you tell if a kid can catch a fly ball?”

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

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Twitter: TomChardPPH