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Next stop, Jupiter: Cards load up for spring

ST. LOUIS -- Despite the outside temperature, signs of spring were evident at Busch Stadium on Thursday as the Cardinals' equipment staff loaded up the first of two 52-foot tractor-trailer trucks bound for Jupiter, Fla.

The packing process was a tangible reminder that the start of Spring Training is near. It is, however, hardly a small feat. Rip Rowan, the Cardinals' head equipment manager since 2003, has had his staff packing and organizing items to be transported for more than a month now. What does not fit in the truck Thursday will be loaded into a second one Friday.

Three days later, the unloading process will begin at the Cardinals' Spring Training complex.

"Basically everything goes," Rowan said, "but the kitchen sink."

That includes bats (usually one to two dozen per player), uniforms, medical goods and kitchen supplies. About 900 dozen baseballs were shipped separately and have already arrived. Players, front-office staff and others from the organization who will be spending several weeks at Spring Training also dropped off luggage, golf clubs and other items to be transported on the truck.

Rowan called the process "simplistic," as would be expected since this is his 36th season with the organization. He and his team of equipment managers have spent much of the past month organizing shipments of goods that were ordered in December. Then there was the arrival of all the personal belongings.

The group will travel to Jupiter over the weekend to be on site for the unloading process. It will be a quick turnaround for all involved, too, as the Cardinals are scheduled to hold their first workout (pitchers and catchers) on Feb. 13. Five days later, the team's first full-squad workout will take place.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.
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