Even here, even in February, even as a beautiful orange sun rules a pristine blue sky — Hey! Those are Mets colors! — it doesn’t take much to fire a cynical shot across a skeptical bow. In the late morning, a few dozen folks have ringed the practice field where Zack Wheeler throws live batting practice.

This is precisely the promise of spring: Kid with a big right arm, showing it off to the world. For Mets fans sold on the potential of 2014 and beyond, who are willing to endure whatever 2013 might bring, these are the moments to rally behind.

It is for such snapshots that Sally and Kevin Plantier have been planning their February getaways for years. Once, they were the Plantiers of Astoria, and the Mets were their neighborhood team. The past decade, they have built winter vacations around the drive from Virginia to Port St. Lucie. Once, they were almost swallowed by the crowds who joined them.

“I remember 2007, it was impossible to move around here it was so crowded,” Sally says. She is wearing a brand-new Mets batting practice cap, the one with Mr. Met smiling and sprinting on the front, and an orange No. 5 David Wright T-shirt. Her husband wears an FDNY cap and a wind-breaker.

“The next year, too,” Kevin says, shaking his head. “We really thought we had the best team around in those years.”

The gatherings are more intimate now and, truthfully, they skew a little older. A lot of these fans have endured a lot of lean times. They laughed along with the ineptitude of the ’60s as kids, suffered along with the stripped-down joke of the ’70s as parents, winced as the blustery Mets of the ’80s became the also-rans of the ’90s as their nests emptied.