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Equipment departs for Arizona on 'Truck Day'

Equipment departs for Arizona on 'Truck Day'

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Equipment departs for Arizona on 'Truck Day'
CLEVELAND -- Progressive Field sat quiet on Friday, snow blanketing the stands and ice covering sections of the outfield. Deep inside the Indians' home ballpark, however, the loading dock was alive with activity.

Two trucks were backed up to a pair of wide doors and workers moved in and out, pushing pallets stacked with boxes and rolling carts holding uniforms. Moving day had arrived for the Tribe, which packed up its trucks and sent them on their way to Goodyear, Ariz., for Spring Training.

"It seems like this is a holiday for this city," said Tony Amato, the Indians' home clubhouse and equipment manager. "It's kind of funny. I was joking with somebody the other day about this, that this is like Cleveland's February holiday."

After departing Progressive Field, the trucks will make the 2,075-mile journey southwest to Goodyear Ballpark. The entire trip should take three or four days, with the goal to have all the equipment ready to be unloaded on Thursday morning.

Many of Cleveland's players are already on hand at the team's facility in Arizona, but pitchers and catchers do not officially report until Feb. 15. The Indians' pitchers and catchers have their first workout on Feb. 17 and the first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 20. The Tribe opens its Cactus League slate at home against the Reds on Feb. 27.

In the meantime, Amato has been charged with getting roughly 1,100 baseballs -- that figure does not even include the practice balls used during infield drills and batting practice -- and more than 600 bats to Goodyear. Then, there are all the bicycles, bottles of water, weight room equipment and other pieces of clothing and gear.

Amato has had some odd requests over the years, too.

"It was probably like five or six years ago," said Amato, cracking a smile. "I can't tell you who it was, but they took a safe down. I don't know what exactly they were putting in it, but it never came back."

While the trucks were being loaded, the temperature in Goodyear was about 40 degrees. The Indians are bringing plenty of jackets and hooded sweatshirts, but Amato is not about to complain about the weather forecast out west.

"They don't have to shovel their driveway, right?" Amato asked with a laugh.

Originally, Amato said the trucks were not scheduled to leave for Arizona until Monday. Given the recent snow storm that swept across the Midwest, though, the Indians decided to change the schedule for a Friday departure. That will give the trucks plenty of time to make their way through the snow-covered country.

"We want it to be there first thing Thursday morning," Amato said. "When we roll this off, we'll have Grady Sizemore's stuff all together, we'll have Shin-Soo Choo's stuff all together, so we can just put it right in their lockers."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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