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Phillies making final preparations for Truck Day

Annual 1,058-mile trek to Clearwater, Fla., begins Friday
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies could pack their Spring Training truck blindfolded at this point.

But they will make things easier on themselves Friday morning, when they load the truck for its annual 1,058-mile trek from Citizens Bank Park to Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., where Phillies pitchers and catchers will have their first workout next Thursday. The truck will be loaded with everything from uniforms and baseballs to golf clubs and the Phanatic's infamous hot dog launcher.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies could pack their Spring Training truck blindfolded at this point.

But they will make things easier on themselves Friday morning, when they load the truck for its annual 1,058-mile trek from Citizens Bank Park to Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., where Phillies pitchers and catchers will have their first workout next Thursday. The truck will be loaded with everything from uniforms and baseballs to golf clubs and the Phanatic's infamous hot dog launcher.

No offense to the groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pa., but the Phils' truck leaving South Philly for sunny Florida is the unofficial beginning of spring in the Delaware Valley.

Of course, the process begins much earlier than Friday. The Phillies' clubhouse staff places orders for almost everything it will need in early December. Things begin arriving after New Year's Day.

"We've never run out of anything," manager of equipment and umpire services Dan O'Rourke said.

The clubhouse staff loads everything on wooden pallets as the equipment comes in, and beginning Friday, they will take a pallet jack and move everything to the service ramp inside the ballpark. The stadium operations staff then will use a forklift to move the pallets to the truck.

More than a dozen people are involved.

Marty Garland from Havertown, Pa., dictates how the truck is loaded. This is his eighth time driving the truck to Florida.

"He'll say whether he wants tubs, bats, crates, suitcases, whatever. However he wants to build it," O'Rourke said. "Before we started unloading at 8 o'clock, Marty and his guys will take a walk to see everything we have."

The laundry list of things on the truck hasn't changed much over the years, although there are fewer personal items on board this year. This Phillies team is much younger than ones in years past, which means fewer families -- and the additional items that must be shipped that come with them.

The 53-foot truck will travel through eight states before pulling into Bright House Field on Sunday.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Philadelphia Phillies