One by one, Royals staff members drove carts piled with equipment out of the clubhouse, up a spiraled ramp, and through single-digit temperatures to a pair of waiting semi-truck trailers. With each trip, the warmth of Arizona sounded better and better.
Thursday, the Kansas City Royals loaded and sent two truckloads of equipment to Surprise, Arizona in preparation for spring training.
The annual tradition signals the beginning of baseball season, even if the temperatures didn’t make it feel that way in Kansas City.
“It just seems to be colder every year and it seems to be sooner every year, but it’s also exciting every year because this signals to us that we’re about ready to play baseball in the warmth of Arizona,” said Toby Cook, the vice president of publicity for the Royals.
Staff members packed baseballs, bats, uniforms, helmets, lockers to go to Arizona. They also loaded medical devices and equipment trainers use to get the players in shape. Cook said the facility in Surprise has some of the same equipment, but not enough to serve all the major and minor league players who will all be there at once during spring training.
The team packed several items outside the baseball realm. The clubhouse staff allows players, coaches, and other team members the opportunity to ship anything they want on the semi-truck. So among the bats and gloves were golf clubs, car seats, bicycles, and strollers.
Cook explained spring training lasts seven weeks and many players bring their families along and need those items that go beyond baseball. Old Dominion Freight Line is the official freight carrier of the Royals.
Spring training begins for pitchers and catchers on February 12. The Royals’ home opener is March 28.