Wheels, not wings for Blue Jays on Truck Day

Wheels, not wings for Blue Jays on Truck Day

TORONTO -- With a name like the Blue Jays, it makes perfect sense that Toronto would pick the coldest weekend of the year to migrate south.

The Blue Jays held their annual Truck Day on Thursday morning to pack up all of the gear that will be required during a six-week stay in Dunedin, Fla. The weather outside might suggest otherwise, but Spring Training is right around the corner.

As club employees loaded the truck inside a warm Rogers Centre, the conditions outside were anything but pleasant. The city of Toronto issued an extreme cold weather alert, with temperatures that felt like minus-25 degrees Celsius (minus-13 Fahrenheit), and more of the same expected this weekend.

Though the start of the journey will be cold, the final destination certainly won't be. After a 21-hour drive, the gear will arrive this weekend at the club's Minor League complex in Florida, where it will be a high of 19 C (66 F) on Friday.

The truck is filled with everything from on-field equipment to office files for the front office and public relations staff. Players typically take a dozen or so bats with them at the end of the season, but pretty much everything else remains in Toronto during the winter months and has to be transported to the Sunshine State.

The trip south is made with all of the equipment in one industrial-sized truck. On the way back, the club typically hires a second truck and makes stops at several Minor League towns along the way to drop off gear. The Blue Jays open the season on April 3 at Tampa Bay, with the home opener coming April 8 against Boston.

Toronto is set to open Spring Training on Feb. 21, when pitchers and catchers are required to report for physicals. Position players will join that group a few days later. Following a week of workouts, the Blue Jays will open their Grapefruit League season against the Phillies on March 1 at 1:05 p.m. ET.

"Getting ready for Spring Training, the meetings that we're going to have on Saturday," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said Wednesday when asked of his remaining priorities. "Getting to know a lot of players I don't know and then ultimately framing our decisions that we will to make in camp and communicating those to our players is next on the docket.

"What hasn't come off our docket is free agency and trade discussions with every team, making sure that we are doing everything we can to make our team better."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.