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Desert bound: Reds' truck loaded for spring camp

CINCINNATI -- The loading dock at Great American Ball Park on Friday resembled an aisle from your average Costco wholesale store. Lots of boxes and supplies were stacked high and ready to move in bulk.

A 53-foot tractor-trailer truck was backed up to receive these goods for the annual pack-up for Reds Spring Training in Goodyear, Ariz.

If a Reds player needs something during camp, there's an excellent chance that clubhouse manager Rick Stowe will have it. After all, it likely went on to the truck headed west.

"We've got a skid of bats," Stowe said as he unveiled a list that totaled three pages. "We've got duffel bags. We've got all of the players' stuff. We have a skid of Nike and Majestic short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts. We have underwear and jock straps. That's all on one skid. We have towels. We have a skid of white and gray pants.

"We have everything from shoe stretchers, hat stretchers and our press to make uniforms, to Gapper's outfit here."

You need baseballs? What kind? Stowe packed 40 cases of balls already rubbed down with mud and another 100 cases of pristine, white practice balls. There are 72 balls per case, according to Stowe.

How about bats? Sixty dozen are going to Goodyear. Helmets? There are 11 helmet bags packed with 32 helmets inside each bag.

All totaled, there will be an estimated 25,000-30,000 pounds of stuff packed on to the truck that is scheduled to depart Cincinnati on Monday. The journey from Cincinnati to Goodyear is 1,863 miles.

Besides baseball equipment, the clubhouse staff used forklifts and push carts to pack up the usual assortment of luggage, golf clubs, office supplies, Gatorade and food. The medical staff includes its supplies, while the scoreboard department also sends out cameras and multimedia equipment for shoots that take place during camp.

The truck must leave six days earlier than last year because the World Baseball Classic has pushed up Spring Training report dates. Reds pitchers and catchers are due to report on Feb. 12, with the full squad arriving on Feb. 15.

This is the fourth year that the Reds have been holding Spring Training in Arizona after decades in Florida. The club was in Sarasota from 1998-2009.

"It's so much easier," Stowe said. "Every year, it gets easier and easier out there. I actually get most of my stuff shipped out there or we leave it out there -- stuff we used to have to send to Sarasota. We have the facility out there to do it. We didn't have the facility in Sarasota. There was no storage or places to leave it secured."

It's hard to believe with all of the volume of boxes and bags that it only takes Stowe and his staff about 45 minutes to load up the truck.

"It used to take days to do when we were in Florida," Stowe said.

Cincinnati Reds