ARLINGTON -- Rangers catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa put his golf clubs on the truck somewhere near Delino DeShields' Taylor acoustic guitar."I've been playing for like four years," DeShields said. "It's an easy way to get my mind off baseball, instead of playing PlayStation all the time or whatever."The 18-wheel truck that
ARLINGTON -- Rangers catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa put his golf clubs on the truck somewhere near Delino DeShields' Taylor acoustic guitar.
"I've been playing for like four years," DeShields said. "It's an easy way to get my mind off baseball, instead of playing PlayStation all the time or whatever."
The 18-wheel truck that departed Globe Life Field on Wednesday afternoon had more than golf clubs and guitars. There were also 800 dozen baseballs and two dozen bats for each player who will be in Spring Training for the Rangers.
The truck will arrive in Phoenix on Monday and be immediately unloaded at the Surprise (Ariz.) complex that is entering the 17th season as the Rangers' Spring Training venue. It will take Brandon Boyd, David Bales and the rest of the Rangers' equipment crew three days to get everything unloaded and set up.
Even after 17 years, the complex that the Rangers share with the Royals remains one of the best Spring Training facilities around, and it will be up and running when pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 12.
"I have been bored for awhile, so I'm ready to get back to it," Kiner-Falefa said. "It has been a long offseason, it's time to go."
The annual departure of the equipment truck for Spring Training truly is a "rite of spring" as Rangers executive vice president of communications John Blake informs the media every winter. Once FanFest has come and gone, the truck departure is the first tangible sign that Spring Training is approaching.
It is a bit of an archaic rite that goes back many years to when clubs really needed to load up trucks and move their base of operations to Spring Training facilities in Arizona and Florida. That isn't quite the case anymore.
The Rangers' complex in Surprise is open year-round and has almost everything they need for Spring Training. Once the Rangers break camp, the complex will be used for extended spring, the Rookie League Rangers, instructional league and the Arizona Fall League.
This is also where the Rangers send their injured players for rehabilitation, especially those recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.
Most of what is shipped on the truck is extra equipment needed specifically for Major League Spring Training such as pitching, hitting and fielding machines, and uniforms for Cactus League games.
"There are 12 boxes of uniform pants," Boyd said. "But we ship a lot of stuff out there ahead of time."
Right now, the Rangers have 62 players coming to Spring Training, 40 on the Major League roster and 22 on Minor League deals. It is almost a certainty that more will be added before the camp opens or even after the Rangers begin their workouts.
But putting a loaded-down 18-wheeler on the highway and heading west tells everybody that Spring Training is coming. It's nice to know it was 38 degrees when the last bag was thrown on the truck.
"It's an exciting time for us," DeShields said. "Once the Super Bowl is over, people can start focusing on baseball. We are just excited to get down there and get on the field and start playing some baseball."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.