MILWAUKEE -- For Brewers chief operating officer Rick Schlesinger, Wednesday marked the unofficial beginning of spring.
On an otherwise dreary winter day, Schlesinger ducked down to the service level at Miller Park to watch crews load a semitrailer with everything from uniforms to medical supplies to sunflower seeds. By day's end, all of that equipment was bound for Phoenix, where the Brewers formally open their Spring Training camp next week.
"When you see the truck being loaded, it reminds you that while winter is not quite over, for us, it might as well be," Schlesinger said. "We're in in-season mode, and it's a race to be ready for Opening Day. Things are a blur, but it's a great energy, a lot of crazy times working late hours, but that's what we do and we love it."
Like many clubs, the Brewers have turned their "Truck Day" into an annual event, with the famous Racing Sausages helping load boxes onto the truck before being packed in themselves. They race during Brewers home games at Maryvale Baseball Park.
It will take three days for the 40,000 pounds of supplies to wind their way to Phoenix. Among the new items this year are dog toys and other items for the Arizona Humane Society in the name of Hank, the white pup who stumbled into Maryvale Baseball Park last year and was adopted by the ballclub. The Brewers have sold nearly $1 million in Hank-themed merchandise over the past 12 months, Schlesinger said, with 20 percent of proceeds going to the Humane Society.
Hank lives in Milwaukee today and won't be making a Spring Training trip because of some March obligations in Wisconsin.
"The impact he's had has been beyond anybody's imagination," Schlesinger said. "We figured, let's keep him where his home base is and not travel him. Not to say someday he won't go back, but this year he's got a full plate -- no pun intended."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.