Spring is here.

The weather may not be what we want quite yet, but my favorite harbinger of the change in seasons is well under way.

Major League Baseball players are preparing for the upcoming season in Arizona and Florida.

The games are inconsequential and often sloppy, but it’s baseball.

The games also give fans a chance to see the future, which is important when the present doesn’t look promising.

That’s the case for fans of the Milwaukee Brewers, such as myself.

Milwaukee has one of the most highly regarded farm systems in the MLB, and the Brewers have a lot of prospects getting their feet wet in big league camp in Phoenix.

Outfielder Lewis Brinson has been living up to his billing as the top prospect in the system, and third baseman Lucas Erceg has been turning heads as well. The future indeed looks bright for the Brew Crew.

As the pros play in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues, a different kind of spring training is taking place here in the northwoods.

With high school basketball seasons wrapping up, local baseball players are taking to gyms to get prepared for the upcoming season.

When I was at Marinette High School, we would hit in the wrestling gym and pitch at the Civic Center in the weeks leading up to the season. Head coach Dave Francour would get our swings ready, and assistant John LaCourt had us doing drills with towels and dowels to get our pitching arms in shape.

Those were some of my favorite days, because baseball was always my favorite sport. Even when I knew I had to walk back out into the frigid cold after practice, it felt like July when I had a baseball in my hand.

Baseball in the gym didn’t cut it though.

We felt like caged animals waiting for the snow to melt so we could finally take batting practice at Pedersen Park. You can’t even see how far the ball goes when you’re hitting in a battling cage. Doesn’t feel the same.

You don’t get to shoot the breeze with your teammates while you shag fly balls. You don’t get to feel the dirt in the batter’s box under your cleats. You don’t even get to wear cleats.

All those things came when the gym doors finally opened and we got to practice outside. The game finally becomes the game, with all the right sights, sounds, smells and feelings.

So for those hitting and throwing inside in the area, hang in there. Before you know it you’ll finally get to feel that grass under your spikes.