First sign of season arrives with Truck Day

Spring Training workouts just days away as Pirates' gear heads south

First sign of season arrives with Truck Day

PITTSBURGH -- Football season ended after the Super Bowl on Sunday night, and Monday morning brought the first sign of baseball season at PNC Park.

Starting around 7 a.m., the Pirates' clubhouse staff loaded up a truck full of equipment bound for Bradenton, Fla. The annual Truck Day went off without incident only eight days before the Bucs will hold their first Spring Training workout for pitchers and catchers.

Pirates' Spring Training information

"It's the start of the season," Pirates clubhouse manager Scott Bonnett said. "It all starts right here, loading everything up north and heading south. It's exciting. It's a lot of hard work in the offseason [from our point of view] to get it down there."

The work started shortly after the season ended, when Bonnett and the rest of the clubhouse staff began ordering the usual supplies -- bats, balls, jerseys, helmets and so on. The process picks up in December after the Winter Meetings, when clubs meet with their equipment vendors.

It all comes together on Truck Day. First thing in the morning, the spacious home clubhouse is packed with stacks of boxes, bags and bins. In addition to the usual baseball gear, club officials send down suitcases and personal items -- including a pro shop's worth of golf clubs -- for the month and a half they'll spend living along Florida's Gulf Coast.

Most of that time is spent working and preparing for the season. The Pirates have two full off-days on their schedule, March 14 and 22, before they head back north for a pair of exhibitions in Montreal and Opening Day in Boston.

"We have our assortment of the PGA Tour, mine included," Bonnett said. "I like to take advantage of those two days and get on a course."

This is Bonnett's 17th year with the Pirates, so he's picked up "a lot of tricks and a few tips," as he put it, over the years. They now have some equipment, including heavy weight room gear, shipped directly to Pirate City and McKechnie Field rather than PNC Park.

By 9:30 a.m., the truck was packed and just about ready to hit the road. The clubhouse staff will fly out Tuesday, prepare the Pirates' southern home for Spring Training and unload the truck Thursday morning.

"That's when the chaos starts," Bonnett said.

For all the hard work and organized chaos, Truck Day -- the start of a new season -- is still a special one for the Pirates.

"I'm excited about it. I usually am," Bonnett said. "It's a lot of work, but it's not a bad day."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.