ST. PETERSBURG -- Equipment trucks were parked at Tropicana Field on Thursday morning. By the time the Rays' clubhouse staff had finished packing each, both swelled with supplies, which signified one thing: Spring Training is near.
"When we load the trucks, we load our thoughts for spring," said Chris Westmoreland, who is in the midst of a transition from the Rays' equipment manager to a role as the team's traveling secretary.
After getting packed, the trucks will remain parked overnight before team personnel will depart Tropicana Field in the trucks Friday morning to make the journey south to Port Charlotte, Fla.
Included in the cargo are 30 dozen bats, 1,000 dozen baseballs, 20 cases of bubble gum (80 buckets), 50 cases of sunflower seeds, toiletries, laundry supplies and 600 towels.
Tampa Bay is scheduled to have 62 players in camp, and all will need uniforms. Representing each player on the truck will be two pairs of white pants, two pairs of gray pants and two batting-practice tops. Backup uniforms also were packed, which included 300 pairs of each color of pants.
In the past, the Rays' Spring Training hat has featured a baby blue bill with a dark blue crown. Those hats will still be worn, so 20 dozen were packed, as were another 20 dozen of the new Spring Training hat that will see a dark blue bill with a baby blue crown.
Uniforms are often adjusted during the course of Spring Training, whether it's for a newcomer in camp, a ripped uniform, or for countless other reasons. Anticipating said adjustments, the team packs an extra sewing machine, extra fabric, and uniform letters. A seamstress is on hand in Port Charlotte for duty as needed.
Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to camp on Feb. 14, but many will find their way to camp earlier.
Tropicana Field, which facilitates offseason workouts for the players, will be open for workouts through Feb. 10. Most players will take Feb. 11 off before converging on the Charlotte Sports Complex where they will continue their workouts before the official beginning of Spring Training.
The Rays will open their Grapefruit League season Feb. 28 with a 1:05 p.m. ET contest against the Orioles at Charlotte Sports Park. Once the team finishes its spring slate, it will open the regular season on March 31 in a 4:10 p.m. affair at Tropicana Field.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.