Time of the year that calls for toughness

Maybe in another couple weeks we'll see the considerable talents of area athletes come to the forefront.

But that will require, you know, games being played in normal weather and normal conditions. For now, games being played at all would be progress.

For now, it's all about maturity and toughness.

It can't be easy to keep showing up at practice day after day for what amounts to extended spring training with the outdoor fields in sorry shape. Early morning practices, late night practices … whenever gym time is available, teams are trying to get whatever work in that they can.

This would be a tricky proposition for pro athletes, let alone a bunch of teenagers who aren't always known for supreme patience.

But if you can keep your focus and get work in, having all this practice time before starting a season can be a big advantage for the first couple weeks of the season. Especially for teams with clever coaches who know how to put the practice time to good use.

Once the games start getting played, that's when toughness will come into play because, let's face it, there are going to be a lot of athletes who would rather be doing anything but playing baseball (or softball or soccer or running track) on a 45-degree day.

Sly's always been impressed by the kids who bring their A game, or something close to it, on those chilly days when you can't feel your extremities. 

You don't have to be a middle linebacker to show you're tough. Fighting off an inside fastball on a cold, April day, and lining the next pitch into the gap shows the same thing.

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