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Indians' equipment trucks begin trek to Arizona

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CLEVELAND -- The Indians have spent this winter figuratively loading up their dugout with two-time World Series-winning manager Terry Francona and veteran outfielder Nick Swisher, among others. And on Thursday morning, it was time to literally load up the equipment for the annual rite of passage that is Truck Day.

Two trucks departed Progressive Field at 11 a.m. ET, bound for Goodyear, Ariz. According to home clubhouse manager Tony Amato, the trucks are scheduled to arrive at the Tribe's Player Development Complex on Monday and unload on Tuesday.

"The clubhouse will be in operation by Tuesday night," Amato said.

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Of course, that clubhouse is already somewhat operational. Amato said 10 or 11 members of the club have already set up shop at the facility, with several more due to arrive in the coming days. Though the Indians' official pitchers and catchers report date is Sunday, Feb. 10, it is commonplace for a majority of players and staffers to be in-house beforehand.

The third installment of the World Baseball Classic lengthens spring camp this year and also throws a little wrinkle into the plans for people like Amato.

"I never remember the truck leaving in January," Amato said. "Because it's a little earlier, the balls and bats will be shipped [to Arizona] directly by the suppliers. But we did get all the uniforms in and all the sets together on rolling racks. We'll be putting them right in players' lockers."

As of now, the Indians have six players included on Classic rosters, so Amato and his crew must account for the Minor Leaguers who will fill in for them while they're away from Tribe camp.

"What makes it tough is you don't know how long guys are going to be gone for when they leave," Amato said. "We've got guys playing for some countries that may not last long and some may last longer. But we're not to the point of doubling up lockers or anything."

In addition to the baseball equipment that goes on the truck, there are also the personal items sent Arizona-bound by players and staffers, from the standard (golf clubs and luggage) to the unusual (a deep-fried turkey cooker).

Speaking of unusual, the Indians' changes on both the coaching staff and player roster have made for an unusual number of uniform changes.

"It's been challenging getting guys' uniform numbers arranged, because we've had some guys change their minds," Amato said. "Francona might be the first manager in baseball history to have three uniform numbers before his first game."

Francona started with No. 47 because that's what he wore in Boston. He decided to switch to 33, for reasons unknown. But then Swisher signed and asked for 33, so Francona switched to 17.

Not that it matters much, because Francona always wears a cage jacket over his jersey, anyway.

Fans can follow the progress of the truck via the Indians' official Twitter account (@Indians) and behind-the-scenes account (@tribeinsider).

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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