CLEVELAND -- The hum of Terry Francona's scooter is usually the first sign of spring around Progressive Field. Every year during the manager's tenure with the Indians, his favorite mode of transportation has made its way from the Cleveland clubhouse to the equipment trucks and then to Arizona.This year, the
CLEVELAND -- The hum of Terry Francona's scooter is usually the first sign of spring around Progressive Field. Every year during the manager's tenure with the Indians, his favorite mode of transportation has made its way from the Cleveland clubhouse to the equipment trucks and then to Arizona.
This year, the two 53-foot trucks that pulled out of Cleveland and began the journey to Goodyear, Ariz., were packed with boxes, duffel bags, trunks and suitcases and filled with baseball equipment, items for the medical and training staff, merchandise, food, water, candy and more. Tito's scooter did not make the trip.
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"This was the first year," Tony Amato, the Indians' home clubhouse and equipment manager, said via the team. "It takes up space in the truck. It's just hard to build around and he very rarely uses it down there."
In downtown Cleveland, Francona can usually be spotted zipping out of Progressive Field on his "hog" on his way home. At the team's Arizona complex, the scooter usually sits parked behind the building. Francona and his coaches typically use golf carts or Gators to make the half-mile trek from the training facility to Goodyear Ballpark. So, Amato texted Francona, who gave permission to leave the vehicle behind.
That helped clear a little more room on the trucks this year for the 10,368 baseballs, 144 boxes of sunflower seeds (BBQ, ranch, dill pickle, kettle roast and original flavors will all be available to the players) and the 72 tubs of Dubble Bubble gum. That is not even all the gum that will wind up in Arizona. Another shipment has been ordered.
"There's going to be quite a bit of gum," Amato said.
For fans, the trucks poking their noses out of ballparks around the country is almost like baseball's version of Groundhog Day. Even with snow still on the ground around Northeast Ohio, winter is coming to an end. Spring -- or at least Spring Training -- is nearly here.
Amato said he and his staff have already reached that point mentally.
"We've already been at it now for a while," Amato said. "This is more the professional-movers-type day to get everything. So, we've kind of been in the Spring Training mode now for at least two or three weeks."
Now, it is less than two weeks from the official start of the preseason for the Tribe.
The trucks pulled out of the stadium around 11:30 a.m. ET on Thursday and will be unpacked at the team's Goodyear complex on Tuesday morning. The lockers in the home clubhouse will be filled with uniforms and the weight room and batting cages will be stocked with equipment. Come Feb. 16, the facility will be a hive of activity for the first workout for the Tribe's pitchers and catchers.
Tito's scooter will be waiting and ready for the home opener on April 6 vs. Kansas City.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.