Connetquot relief pitcher Casey Baker closes out the Suffolk baseball...

Connetquot relief pitcher Casey Baker closes out the Suffolk baseball Class AA winner's bracket final. (May 25, 2012) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

As a new high school baseball season dawns, a similar theme has arisen. No, it isn’t who throws the best high heat in Suffolk or who can hit the farthest long ball in Nassau. It’s a lot less complicated than that.

Simply put – it’s cold out there!

As tryouts end and practices begin, the task of keeping warm is as much a part of everyday routines as taking ground balls and long tossing in the outfield. So, what’s the key “staying hot” in mid-March?

“Lots of layers,” Connetquot senior shortstop Casey Baker said after a Newsday photo shoot on Thursday.

Port Washington hurler Bryce Keller agrees: “You have to wear Under Armour, a jacket, and a sweatshirt. Today it was 39 degrees at practice. It was freezing. I was wearing four layers.”

Dressing for practice is often different from dressing for the game.

Baker also pitches. When he’s on the mound, despite the temperature, he wears short sleeves.

“I feel a little constricted with long sleeves,” he said.

The hardest part of pitching in the cold, according to Baker, is gripping the ball.

“Your hands get a little numb,” he said. “Throwing strikes gets tough.”

But, the Thunderbird said, dealing with the cold is a bit easier when he’s playing shortstop.

“After long enough, you get used to it,” he said. “You just adapt.”

Longwood’s Andruw Gazzola also plays shortstop and pitches. Like Baker, Gazzola prefers the short sleeve look on the mound – but every preference has its limits.

“Sometimes, when it’s really cold out, I wear long sleeves and roll them up a little bit,” Gazzola said. “With short sleeves, there’s more flexibility in my arms and I feel like I throw harder.”

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