Patrick McLendon

Texas A&M's Patrick McLendon throws from second during infield drills at practice Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. (Eagle Photo/ Stuart Villanueva)

On the very day people in the College Station/Bryan area were having to scrape ice off their car windows, baseball practice officially started at Texas A&M.

The A&M grounds crew resembled human snowplows as they chipped the ice away from just behind the infield while the players “warmed up” in the background.

I’m not sure the guy with the leaf blower was trying to move the loose ice or melt it.

It was so cold it made A&M coach Rob Childress think back to his days at Nebraska.

“It was fun, brought back some good memories with coach [Andy] Sawyers and coach [Justin] Seely. We knew how to get the ice off the tarp.”

Good thing the coaches  did because for most, if not all, the players it was a first, taking a tarp covered with ice off the field so that the team could take batting practice.

“It was heavy,” senior Krey Bratsen said. “I’m excited about [practicing in the wintery conditions] it because I know when the first game comes its going to be pretty cold like it is every year, misty and rain.”

Bratsen had to be excited, his coach made it sound as if it was balmy.

“We are excited. We feel like we have a great opportunity to be outside today and we dodged the bad weather of yesterday and last night,” Childress said. “We had the tarp down and we were able to get the ice off the tarp and the surface is great and it’s not bad out here with the wind not blowing.”

In short, no bellyaching guys.

Junior Mitchell Nau proved that catchers are tough, showing off his guns in his practice shirt. Johnathan Moroney stood out in right field shagging balls dressed the same.

When Childress was asked if Nau gained points or had them taken away because of what he was wearing in the sub-40 temperatures.  His answer was look at those guys over there in pullovers. Soft!

The temperatures in the Brazos Valley were in the high 30s as the team took the field, but as anybody who has watched an Aggie baseball game early in the year knows, that means it was probably lucky to be above freezing.

There was plenty of enthusiasm on the field though, partially because of the optimism of this year’s team in its second run through the tough SEC.

A pitching staff that boasts three stars — Parker Ray, Daniel Mengden and Jason Jester — from last year, along with return of lefthander A.J. Minter and the steady improvement of Corey Ray and Grayson Long should make for a strong staff.

Sawyers also appears to have more hitters to choose from this season, many of which will take aim at the new scoreboard in left field.

Preseason All-American Cole Lankford returns and no one got past the media without mentioning the names of G.R. Hinsley and Logan Nottebrok, both junior college transfers with some pop in their bat.

A&M had 26 homers last season with Hunter Melton, who didn’t start until the midway point of the season, leading the way with six.

A&M went 34-29 overall in 2013 and were 13-16 in the SEC. The Aggies made the postseason for the seventh straight time under Childress, but were eliminated at the Corvallis Regional by the host team Oregon State.

This season the Aggies are looking to do a little hosting of their own. If they’ll be able to look back to an icy day in January as the day it all got started.

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