Spring is near: Rangers' truck heads to Arizona

Spring is near: Rangers' truck heads to Arizona

ARLINGTON -- There are 600 boxes of baseball -- a dozen per box -- right now heading west from Arlington to Arizona.

That's just to get the Rangers started. More will be shipped out to Arizona later.

The Rangers equipment truck left Globe Life Park on Friday afternoon for Surprise, Ariz., always the first tangible sign Spring Training is approaching.

"Yeah, it's exciting," Rangers pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez said after being on hand to watch the final loading of the 18-wheeler. "It shows how close it is. It's exciting to want to get out and compete, hear the screaming and the noise and all of that business."

Rangers pitchers and catchers officially report Feb. 17 but those planning to play in the World Baseball Classic can report Feb. 14. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is playing for the United States and will share the duties behind the plate with Buster Posey of the Giants.

"It will be a great honor to play with those guys," Lucroy said.

Lucroy is not going to wait for Feb. 14. He is planning to get out there next week to start working out.

"I was thinking about it a month ago and it hit me it's getting close," Lucroy said. "You start itching, you want to get out of that cold weather, warm up and get on the field with your teammates."

Equipment manager Brandon Boyd, assistant clubhouse manager David Bales and their seven assistants will have everything ready to go. In addition to the baseballs, the truck carried 140 cases of 24-count coffee pods, 25 bags of charcoal to cook lunch after the workouts, video equipment, pitching machines and bottles of coconut water.

Some put their golf clubs on the truck while others put their bicycles for those late-afternoon treks through the desert landscape and White Tank Mountains. Almost everybody adds a few personal items, but the whole operation is not as complicated as it once was.

The Rangers are celebrating their 15th season of sharing the 132-acre training complex with the Royals and the facility remains as good -- if not better -- as any in Arizona. That is especially true after the major renovations done by the city of Surprise last year that made an already superb facility even better.

The complex is open and used year-round by the Rangers. The only breaks are at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The facility is already stocked with just about everything the Rangers need to conduct Spring Training and that's why players like Lucroy can't wait to get there.

From Globe Life Park to Surprise Stadium is a journey of 1,079 miles, most of it interstate freeways through Midland, Odessa, El Paso, Las Cruces (N.M.) and Tucson (Ariz.). Estimated time is 15 hours; that is without stopping.

That may not be practical, but by early next week, the Rangers will be set up and ready for Spring Training.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.