Loaded Indians trucks set to hit road for Arizona
Skipper Francona's scooter, club's equipment ready for journey to Goodyear
CLEVELAND -- A worker came whirring around a corner in the Progressive Field tunnel, rolling by on the red scooter that belongs to Indians manager Terry Francona. Tito's famous form of transport was quickly loaded into one of the Tribe's two equipment trucks.
With the scooter on board, it became official: Spring Training is almost here.
The ballpark's loading dock was buzzing with activity on Friday morning, when the Indians' trucks were being prepped for the roughly 2,000-mile journey from Progressive Field to Goodyear Ballpark in Arizona. A handful of Cleveland's players have already arrived to the team's spring facility. All of their gear will be joining them soon.
"This is a great day," said Marty Bokovitz, the Indians' assistant home clubhouse manager. "I think it signifies spring. Spring is here."
That is a warm thought for folks in Cleveland, who have braved the extremely frigid temperatures that have overwhelmed much of the country over the past few weeks. There is snow around Bob Feller's statue by Gate C and covering the Progressive Field diamond, but there will be plenty of sun to be had for the Indians in a couple weeks.
Cleveland's pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Goodyear, Ariz., on Feb. 11, with their first workout planned for Feb. 13. The full squad will be required to report on Feb. 15, leading up to the Tribe's first team-wide workout on Feb. 17. Cleveland opens its spring slate against the Reds on Feb. 26 and will head to Oakland for Opening Day on March 31.
Bokovitz said the goal is to have all the equipment unloaded and set up at the Tribe's Spring Training complex as swiftly as possible.
"We do all our player sets -- jerseys and pants," Bokovitz said. "We have those prepackaged and ready to go, so all we have to do is hang them in their locker. With the amount of guys who start showing up the first of the year, it's essential that when we get there, the setup is as fast as possible. It's basically a day until we're fully functional."
Ed Fisher, who has been driving an equipment truck for the Indians for seven years, plans on heading through St. Louis before hitting Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico on the way to Arizona. The entire trip usually takes four days, meaning the trucks should pull into Goodyear on Tuesday. Everything will be unloaded on Wednesday morning.
The trucks were loaded with workout equipment, bicycles, uniforms, equipment bags and plenty of personal belongings. Bokovitz estimated that around 300 bats (roughly half the team's spring total) were aboard the trucks, as well as more than 250 cases of bottled water (Cleveland gets a local discount).
"There's also a half-pallet of stadium mustard," Bokovitz said with a laugh.
Among the odd requests from over the years, Bokovitz said the late Feller used to put empty boxes on the equipment trucks.
"His wife used to like to bring stuff back when we were in Tucson," Bokovitz said. "Other than the empty boxes, [Francona's] scooter is probably one of the more interesting ones."