BOSTON -- Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino is positive the 2013 club is on the upswing.
"The team's going to be better," Lucchino said Tuesday outside of Fenway Park. "There's no doubt in my mind that this team is going to be better."
Lucchino and his budding face of the franchise, third baseman Will Middlebrooks, stood out in the cold on Van Ness Street with a few hundred fans for Truck Day, the annual sign that Spring Training is almost here. For the 15th consecutive year, Al Hartz of Milford, Mass., left Fenway at the wheel of the team equipment truck for the 1,490-mile drive to Fort Myers, Fla.
Among the gear loaded on the big rig were 20,400 baseballs, 1,100 bats, 200 batting gloves and helmets, 160 white game jerseys and 400 pairs of socks. And, of course, 20 cases of bubble gum and 60 cases of sunflower seeds.
"It's just a distinctive feature of Boston Red Sox baseball," Lucchino said of the send-off. "I've been in three cities, and nowhere is there anything that compares to Truck Day here in Boston. It's a very positive sign. It's a harbinger of spring.
"I am amazed on a Tuesday afternoon when it's cold and overcast that people are out here with big smiles on their faces. There's one woman who brings cookies every year, passes 'em out to the fans. It's just a nice positive thing, and it's a testimony to the passion, deep unabiding passion the Red Sox fans have."
Pitchers and catchers don't need to officially report until Feb. 12, but some are already in Florida at JetBlue Park, and that includes manager John Farrell.
Middlebrooks, who had just finished working out and stepped out of Fenway in shorts, leaves for Florida on Saturday. He spent Tuesday morning on Harvard's campus with new closer Joel Hanrahan, who was hitting fungoes.
Middlebrooks has gotten to know Hanrahan and first baseman Mike Napoli some, because they work out in Texas. While Middlebrooks hasn't met other newcomers like Jonny Gomes or Shane Victorino, he said he's heard only good things.
"With it being 25 degrees out here, I'm even more excited to go down south now," Middlebrooks joked. "Yeah, I'm ready to go."
After having his season end Aug. 10 due to a broken right wrist, Middlebrooks said he's fully healthy and has been swinging a bat for more than a month. He signed autographs and tossed soft mini-baseballs into the crowd.
"It's awesome. You don't really see this anywhere else," Middlebrooks said. "Red Sox Nation is in full effect right now, ready to go as much as we are."
The first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 15. One Red Sox mainstay who should receive a lot of attention on arrival is designated hitter David Ortiz, who may not yet be 100 percent back after a right Achilles tendon injury cut short his 2012 season.
"Ortiz is quite optimistic about his preparedness and his availability come the start of the season," Lucchino said. "Where he is in the process, I'm not sure."
General manager Ben Cherington said on MLB Network Radio on Monday that Ortiz should be ready to go by Opening Day.