ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay's pitchers and catchers don't report to Spring Training until Feb. 12. Stocking the team is another matter.
On Wednesday morning, the Rays' clubhouse staff loaded equipment and supplies onto trucks to send to the Charlotte Sports Complex for Spring Training. The annual rite of passage served notice that baseball season is just around the corner.
During the process, uniforms, bats, baseballs, food items and training supplies paraded down the corridors of Tropicana Field in massive quantities to be loaded on the truck. Some of the names on the backs of the uniforms were different than in past years.
Gone are James Shields, J.P. Howell, B.J. Upton, Carlos Pena, Wade Davis and Jeff Keppinger. New arrivals will include Wil Myers, Roberto Hernandez, Yunel Escobar and James Loney, just to name a few.
"You're always looking forward to new relationships," said Rays equipment and clubhouse manager Chris Westmoreland. "It's sad to see the other guys go, but it will be interesting to meet the new guys."
When asked to list some of the quantities packed for Spring Training, Westmoreland noted that awaiting the team upon its arrival in Port Charlotte will be 500 dozen balls, 30 dozen bats, 200 buckets of gum and 200 boxes of seeds.
"We're ready to go," Westmoreland said.