Keep on truckin: Grieving Royals load up for spring

Keep on truckin: Grieving Royals load up for spring

KANSAS CITY -- If ever an organization or a city needed some optimistic signs, it is the Royals and Kansas City.

The team and the community, still coming to grips with the tragic death of pitcher Yordano Ventura, got one of those signs Thursday with the Royals' annual Truck Day, as the team began loading supplies for the journey to Surprise, Ariz., and Spring Training.

Thousands of pounds of training equipment and medical supplies were first to be loaded Thursday aboard two trucks that will arrive in Surprise on Monday.

A second bigger van will be loaded Saturday with the bulk of luggage and baseball equipment, from bats and balls to video equipment and pine tar to bubble gum and sunflower seeds. That 18-wheeler will arrive in Surprise on Tuesday.

"Today's always a special day," said Royals visiting clubhouse manager Chuck Hawke, who supervises the loading. "You see everything get loaded up and it just puts you that much closer to Spring Training."

While temperatures in Surprise were expected to reach 76 degrees on Thursday, wind-chill temps at Kauffman Stadium hovered in the teens.

"Wish I were headed there," one loader said with a smile.

Most of the players' personal items, such as Alex Gordon's tricycles for his children, won't be loaded until Saturday.

"And most of the players just ship things themselves these days," Hawke noted.

Numerous Royals, including Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer and Danny Duffy, are already in Surprise to begin early workouts.

Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 13, with their first workout the following day. The full squad reports Feb. 16, with the first full-squad workout Feb. 17. And the Royals' Cactus League opener is Feb. 25 against the Rangers in Surprise.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.