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Amid ice, snow, Pirates truck packed, off to Florida

Clubhouse manager Bonnett, crew load items for club's use at spring camp

Special to

PITTSBURGH -- A winter storm dropped several inches of ice and snow on the Pittsburgh area Tuesday night, but that didn't stop the Pirates' equipment truck from leaving for Florida by midday Wednesday.

The team's clubhouse manager, Scott Bonnett, and his staff spent more than a month organizing and packing everything the Pirates' players and staff will need to properly prepare for the 2014 season over the next several weeks.

Then Wednesday morning, all of those items -- including uniforms, batting practice tops, catching gear, helmets, sweatshirts, T-shirts, shorts, hoodies and a whole lot more -- were packed into an 18-wheeler, which left PNC Park headed for Bradenton, Fla., by lunch time.

"Every little thing you can think of that we could possibly need, we bring it down," Bonnett said. "It's just a lot of different stuff. It takes us a good two and a half or three hours to get it all on the truck. Poundage-wise, I couldn't tell you how much it is. It pretty much fills up the entire semi, but once you put it on there, that's it. I'll meet the truck down in Florida on Saturday and unload it."

Pittsburgh's pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to the Pirate City training complex in Bradenton next Wednesday and their first official workout is slated for the following day. The team's first full-squad workout will take place Feb. 18 and the Pirates will open Grapefruit League play on Feb. 26, when they host the Yankees at McKechnie Field at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Bonnett -- who is called "Bones" for his slender build, not just because of his last name -- doesn't look like a guy who moves equipment around the country for a living. The person who gave him that nickname originally was Orel Hershiser of the Dodgers, back when Bonnett worked in the visiting clubhouse at Cinergy Field in Cincinnati during the 1990s.

"I was really skinny when I was coming out of high school and working for the Reds," he said. "That was when Hershiser started calling me 'Bones' and it's easier for players to remember a nickname than an actual first name, so it stuck. Now my mom and my grandmother are the only people who call me by my first name."

Skinny or not, Bonnett is very skilled at what he does and he explained that loading the Pirates' equipment truck is more challenging when it's time to head back to Pittsburgh at the end of Spring Training than it is on the front end. That's because he has new orders of items such as baseballs and bats shipped directly to Bradenton by the suppliers in January, and it's also due to the fact that he has luggage and equipment bags for all the players and coaches to contend with on the trip home.

"The truck coming back is the tricky part," Bonnett said. "When it comes back, it's pretty much like a jigsaw puzzle. We have to use every piece of space available to make everything fit. Things get stacked much higher."

But for now, Bonnett and his staff are focused on getting things organized for next week.

"After you get all the equipment off the truck, it takes maybe a day or so to get everything in working order so that it's turnkey and ready for the boys," he said. "Once in a while, with this much stuff to move, somebody is going to put something somewhere [incorrectly]. But we've never lost anything. We may misplace some things, but it gets to the point where I know it's there somewhere. I've seen it. I know exactly what's on that truck, so I can track it down."

Jim Lachimia is a contributor to

Pittsburgh Pirates