NEW YORK -- The streets around Citi Field remained a slushy mess on Tuesday, even as temperatures rose above freezing for the first time in who-can-remember. The sky was a dull gray. But then the surest sign of spring came rumbling through the mess, pulling out onto 126th St. en route to the sun and palm trees of Port St. Lucie, Fla.
The Mets' equipment truck was heading south.
In what has become an annual tradition, Mr. and Mrs. Met gathered at Citi Field with signs and grins, loading bags while wishing the truck a safe and speedy trip. Pitchers and catchers are officially due in Port St. Lucie by Feb. 19, with position players following on Feb. 24 and the first full-squad workout set for Feb. 26. The first Grapefruit League game is scheduled for March 4 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., in advance of Opening Day on April 6 in Washington.
Everyone will finally reconvene at Citi Field for the home opener on April 13.
"We have high expectations for this season," general manager Sandy Alderson said late last month.
Much of the Mets' equipment, like many of their players, is already down in Port St. Lucie. A sizeable chunk of the roster has been working out at the team's Spring Training complex and independent training center for weeks, including David Wright, Jon Niese and Lucas Duda, who own homes in the area. Matt Harvey showed up Monday. Plenty of others are due in soon, with 57 players -- including the Mets' most high-profile offseason addition, Michael Cuddyer, as well as top prospects Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki and Brandon Nimmo -- on the current invite list. That group could grow between now and next Wednesday, should the Mets make another Minor League signing or two.
If it does, the clubhouse crew will be ready. The truck that left Tuesday carried bushels of baseballs, weight training gear and plenty of luggage. Its 1,184-mile trip to Tradition Field takes about 18 hours, not including stops.
And when it arrives, Citi Field's slush will be nothing more than a memory. Spring, for the Mets, will finally have come.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.