Truck Day marks beginning of journey for Tribe

Indians' longtime driver Fisher has trip down to science to help team prepare for Spring Training

Truck Day marks beginning of journey for Tribe

CLEVELAND -- Ed Fisher looks forward to this day every offseason. The Indians' longtime driver knows that when he pulls out of Progressive Field, his truck emblazoned with Cleveland's logo on the trailer packed to the gills with baseball equipment and more, his journey to Arizona marks the beginning of the Tribe's journey through the season.

"I like being a part of it," Fisher said. "I really do."

On Friday morning, Fisher and his crew were busy in the bowels of the ballpark, stuffing a pair of 53-foot trucks with items that the Indians require for Spring Training. The trucks were set to embark on the three-day trek to Goodyear, Ariz., where the Tribe's staff is aiming to unload the semis on Tuesday to help the players get started out in the desert.

Indians' Spring Training info

The trucks are filled with bikes, weight-room equipment, personal belongings of players and staff, sunflower seeds, bottled water and much more. There was one pallet of gum, which may or may not have been only for Cleveland manager Terry Francona. When the trucks were nearly full, Francona did have one very important item rolled into the back of one of the trailers.

"We need the scooter!" yelled an Indians clubhouse worker.

A few minutes later, another team employee zipped through the tunnel on Tito's black moped.

Things have changed a lot for the Tribe's clubhouse crew since the days when the team trained in Winter Haven, Fla. The facility in Arizona is modernized and operational year round. That allows the Indians to ship items -- such as the 1,500 baseballs needed for the preseason -- directly to the complex in Goodyear. That creates more space on the trucks for Tony Amato, Cleveland's home clubhouse and equipment manager, to fit items requested by the players and staff.

Typically, Amato and his workers begin the process in October, but the Indians' deep 2016 postseason run added a wrinkle to the usual program. Within 48 hours of the Indians' loss in the World Series, Amato was working on the long to-do list in preparation of Spring Training.

"[Truck Day came] a lot quicker, and [there were] a lot more challenges," Amato said. "From a logistics standpoint, as soon as the season was over, it rolled right into budgeting and ordering within two days from when the season ended. From that end, it was a lot more challenging from our end. But we got through it."

What is Amato's biggest challenge every year?

"Just making sure we have everything," Amato said. "There's stuff in the offices we have to grab. There's stuff in the weight room, from the trainer's room, people even bring ballpark mustard down here, to merchandising. We have to coordinate all that stuff. Scoreboard shoots. There's always stuff left behind."

Fisher, who has been driving the trucks to Spring Training for the Tribe for a decade now, called this "the best day of my life every year."

With nearly 3 million miles driven in his career, Fisher has this trip down to a science. He averages between 600-650 miles per day and plans out his stops in advance. With the Indians' logo on the side of his truck, Fisher hears his share of honking horns and shouts throughout his journey.

And when he finally pulls into the Tribe's headquarters in Arizona?

"I love it," Fisher said. "It's great. And it's a beautiful complex."

If the Indians win the World Series this year, Fisher will feel like he played a role.

"I feel like I've had a hand in it every year," said Fisher, who then let out a hearty laugh. "How are they going to do Spring Training without me? I've got all their stuff."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.