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Truck Day heralds start of Spring Training

Reds' equipment has headed off to Arizona to meet the team
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Fans often mark their calendars for the day Reds pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Goodyear, Ariz. But before the day can happen, all of the stuff the team needs for camp has to get to Arizona.

That's why Truck Day is what the Reds clubhouse staff anticipates first. On Tuesday, a 53-foot tractor-trailer truck backed into the loading dock in the bowels of Great American Ball Park to be filled with baseball equipment and more.

CINCINNATI -- Fans often mark their calendars for the day Reds pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Goodyear, Ariz. But before the day can happen, all of the stuff the team needs for camp has to get to Arizona.

That's why Truck Day is what the Reds clubhouse staff anticipates first. On Tuesday, a 53-foot tractor-trailer truck backed into the loading dock in the bowels of Great American Ball Park to be filled with baseball equipment and more.

"It's pretty much the normal stuff," said Mark Stowe, the visiting clubhouse manager. "Every once in a while, we've had something abnormal like a boat or even a car. This year hasn't been too bad. It's been nice. We are sending a lot more giveaway stuff for Arizona."

Reds vice president of home clubhouse operations Rick Stowe -- who began working for the club in 1981 and became head of the clubhouse in 1997 -- oversees the process. Mark Stowe, Rick's brother, has been working for the club since 1975 and became responsible for the visitor's clubhouse in 1997.

The truck is scheduled to leave Cincinnati on Wednesday and arrive at the Reds' player development complex on Friday. The desert-bound drive will cover 1,825 miles.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

On Saturday, the same clubhouse crew that loaded the truck will be ready to unload. The team shifted Spring Training from Florida to Arizona in 2010, and in the ensuing years, the truck load-up has become an ever-so-smooth routine.

"Since we started putting stuff on skids, it got a lot easier for us," Mark Stowe said. "[Clubhouse assistant] Josh Stewart is a man who knows angles really well and he just seems to get everything in place. Everything is on skids and it doesn't really [take long]. We get it unloaded in like two hours."

On those skids are items that range from the obvious like baseball bats, baseballs, batting helmets and uniform items to things some fans might not think of immediately -- medical equipment, office supplies, computer equipment, buckets of gum, cases of sunflower seeds and kitchen items. Then there are the personal items for players and staff such as suitcases, baby cribs, a guitar and golf clubs.

Reds pitchers and catchers officially report to Spring Training on Feb. 13 and work out the following day. The first full-squad workout is Feb. 19 and Cactus League play opens on Feb. 23 vs. the Indians at Goodyear Ballpark.

Opening Day of the regular season is on March 29, vs. the Nationals, at Great American Ball Park.

"We're pretty excited. Hopefully it's a much better year for us this year," Mark Stowe said.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds