Sign of spring as Rangers' truck heads to Arizona

Sign of spring as Rangers' truck heads to Arizona

ARLINGTON -- The Oyster was loaded and ready to go when the Rangers' equipment truck departed for Arizona on Monday. In fact, there were two of them aboard.

The Oysters are the two baseball-cleaning machines the Rangers have bought to help them get through Spring Training.

"It removes all the stains from the ball and you can use it again," Rangers equipment manager Richard Price said. "It saves the team 10 bucks every time you pull one out."

The Oysters will be busy this spring. The Rangers' equipment truck had 600 dozen baseballs loaded and headed for Arizona on Monday. That's just to get them started when pitchers and catchers report to Surprise next week. Before the Rangers are through with Spring Training, they will have another 800 dozen baseballs shipped out to Surprise.

That's 16,800 baseballs for about 40 days in the desert.

"We'd like to think we don't have to add to that," Price said. "We hope to bring back a dozen baseballs with us to start the season."

Those baseballs -- made in Costa Rica -- cost $10.50. The Rangers' annual budget for baseballs comes to $340,000, according to Price. The average life of a baseball is four pitches.

"You get one scuff mark on the baseball and they throw it out," catcher Robinson Chirinos said.

"Budget-wise, it crushes me," Price said.

But they are also great marketing tools. Let's face it, how many other sports do fans come to the game hoping against hope to bring back a ball as a souvenir. Even players do that.

"I have over 100 at my house," Chirinos said. "Not only my first hit in the Major Leagues, but my first hit when I signed, my first hit in Venezuela. I collect them."

The Rangers also loaded 20 dozen bats onto the truck, with more to be shipped directly to Surprise. Some of those bats aren't going to be around too long either, depending on who is doing the swinging.

"Nelson Cruz or Josh Hamilton? One minute," Price said. "Michael Young and David Murphy? A lifetime."

Uniforms also were on the truck. The Rangers right now have 61 players coming to Spring Training, and general manager Jon Daniels is still out there looking for more pitching help.

"Sixty one…that matches the number of guys we had on the [disabled list] last year," Price joked.

The truck has everything they need to get started. Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 20.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.