With the cold days of winter making the slow transition to much nicer spring weather, children from throughout the Midcoast are trading their basketball sneakers for baseball cleats with the start of organized diamond play on the horizon.

And who better to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to the season, so to speak, than the Midcoast's resident professional baseball player?

Camden native Mike MacDonald, who pitched for the Portland Sea Dogs and Pawtucket Red Sox last season, directed a youth pitching clinic Sunday morning, April 7 at Lincolnville Central School, an event attended by more than 30 young players.

Click for photos from the baseball clinic.

MacDonald, a 2000 graduate of the former Camden-Rockport High School, went on to pitch for the University of Maine and has played professional baseball since 2004 at the Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A levels of Major League Baseball for different organizations.

MacDonald, currently a free agent, which means he has not signed to pitch with any team at any level this spring (a separate story on MacDonald's career and future playing prospects will appear later), "was pleasantly surprised" by the turnout of youngsters at the clinic.

"It's exciting," he said. "Growing up in the area there's not always that information or that chance to get to do things like this. And I've been fortunate enough throughout my career to be in contact with people that have lots of information to give and I think it's important for me to pass that information on to kids that might not be able to get that information otherwise."

MacDonald, along with his father, Paul, and Peter Rollins and Ben Rollins, the latter of whom is a sophomore infielder on the Camden Hills Regional High School varsity baseball team this spring, put the young baseball players through a handful of pitching drills to improve accuracy, power and overall performance.

"It was nice to have that help as well and I think the kids got something out of it," MacDonald said.

MacDonald takes part in roughly 6-10 clinics each year, with stops in the Rockport and Belfast areas typically annual events.

"The more you do them, the more comfortable you get [and] the more you understand how the kids are going to react and what needs to be done to keep their attention," MacDonald said.

MacDonald, who has received a wealth of teaching and advice from various coaches throughout his baseball career, said the players ability to apply the lessons taught will directly impact their performances as they move from Little League through high school.

"At that point, it's what you do with the information that separates you from everyone else," MacDonald said. "It's like anything. The information is there, [so] it's what you're going to put the effort into is what you're going to get out of it."

Courier Publications sports staff can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by email at sports@courierpublicationsllc.com.