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Reds pack up for trip to Spring Training in Arizona

Truck scheduled to leave Thursday for three-day journey to Goodyear complex

CINCINNATI -- It doesn't matter if a Reds offseason is busy or quiet, the benchmarks are always the same leading up to the next Spring Training.

It begins in November with the opening of free agency. In early December, there is Redsfest and the Winter Meetings. Then there is the end of a Bengals football season. The next thing one knows, it's time for Reds Caravan in late January.

On Tuesday came the final post before pitchers and catchers report -- the loading of an equipment truck for Spring Training. As usual, the process was supervised by Reds clubhouse manager Rick Stowe.

"We are packing up our lives for the next two months," Stowe said.

The truck is scheduled to leave Great American Ball Park on Thursday for a three-day journey to the Reds' player development complex in Goodyear, Ariz. -- about 1,828 miles in total. Everything will arrive in plenty of time before camp officially opens Feb. 14.

"It's very exciting," Stowe said. "It's my favorite time of year. It's what I live for -- the next eight months. Warm weather is on the way. I'm tired of shoveling snow, that's for sure. I'm really looking forward to getting out to Arizona and getting baseball season going."

Contained inside the 53-foot trailer is just about everything a Major League Baseball team needs, from 13,000 baseballs to a couple of thousand bats, plus uniforms, helmets, gum, sunflower seeds, medical equipment, shoe stretchers, hat stretchers, personal luggage, food and supplies for the front office.

The estimated weight of all the stuff is 25,000-30,000 pounds.

"It wasn't bad," Stowe said of the packing-up process. "We start from the very end of the season. The next day after the end of the season, we start packing up that day. We have everything skidded up. Just to put it on the truck is very easy. It takes maybe an hour."

In past years, Stowe has packed everything from a fishing boat for Deion Sanders to quadrunner bikes for Barry Larkin.

"This year, Shin-Soo Choo left a bunch of stuff," Stowe said. "We have a whole skid of household stuff, kids' toys and stuff like that, that we're bringing out to Goodyear for him."

Choo signed as a free agent with Rangers, who also train in Arizona.

This is the fifth year that the Reds are holding Spring Training in Arizona. The club was in Sarasota, Fla., from 1998-2009 and at other locales in Florida for decades. In those days when the Reds had less space at their previous complexes, Stowe and his staff had to pack an entire weight room onto the truck.

"It's actually gotten lighter now that we have our own complex out in Arizona," Stowe said. "We leave all of our weight equipment out there. Now that we have a presence in Arizona and that nice complex out there, we just leave everything out there. It's gotten a lot lighter and a lot easier."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.

Cincinnati Reds