By Rick Dayton

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Baseball season might seem like a long way away right now, but hope is on the horizon.

It is so cold, rainy and miserable in Pittsburgh today. There are icicles on the face of the Bill Mazeroski statue at PNC Park, but it won’t be long until the Pirates head south to Bradenton, Fla.

As a matter of fact, they packed up today.

“I absolutely love the snow and I love the cold, but man, it’s just been bad,” Clubhouse Manager Scott Bonnett said.

Bonnett and his Pirates equipment staff are ready to head south for a couple of months as the Buccos open Spring Training.

When you are packing up an entire baseball team and operation, it takes an 18-wheeler.

“You have to break down your whole entire equipment room because that’s what you are using. It’s a makeshift equipment room with the limited space you have down there, but you don’t want to be left with something behind,” Bonnett said.

They aren’t just packing bats and balls. It’s also personal gear for the players and front office staff who call Florida home until Opening Day.

That means strollers and at least one mini bike are headed south on the truck. Planning for the trip began long before today.

“It starts pretty much about a week after the season. I start ordering from Nike and Rawlings and Majestic, getting all that. But, really, it starts taking form right after the New Year,” Bonnett said.

About 55 players will be in Spring Training along with 25 coaches and another 25 to 30 staff members, who all have the goal of improving on what was a fantastic season.

“Great bunch of guys. So, hopefully, the new guys we got coming in mix well with them because I couldn’t tell you, after all the years I have been in baseball, that was a pretty special group last year, and they had each other’s back, which is kind of special,” Bonnett said.

Pitchers and catchers report on the Feb. 12.

The voice of the Pirates Greg Brown joined KDKA Radio’s Larry Richert and John Shumway to preview the 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates Season.

The conversation focused on the possible return of A.J. Burnett.

“Total guess on my part. I just have an inkling that in a couple of weeks he’s going to come riding in on his white horse and come to camp,” Brown said.

Listen to the full interview here:

Listen to the KDKA Morning News with Larry Richert and John Shumway every weekday from 5 to 9 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA


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