PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers and catchers report to Bradenton on Monday. The full squad workouts begin about a week after that. But, before they can get ready to play ball, the equipment managers have to get everything shipped from Pittsburgh to Florida.
Some of the equipment they take is obvious. Of course, they have to have hundreds of baseball bats, and thousands of baseballs.
Other items are more obscure, like exercise bikes to help injured players rehab.
Pirates equipment manager Scott Bonnett explains what all gets loaded up.
“Uniforms. We’ve got bats. We’ve got balls. We’ve got sweatshirts. We’ve got new shorts. We’ve got shirts. We’ve got medical. We’ve got weight-lifting,” he said.
In short, it is everything a Major League Baseball team will need to be away from home for the next two months. For Recker Trucking, loading up the Bucs has been a rite of spring for nearly seven decades.
“We’ve been doing it 67 years, so it comes natural,” says Chuck Recker. “It’s not really a big thing, but we are looking forward to the upcoming season.”
The Pirates equipment staff started packing months ago. It only took them a couple hours to fill and entire 18-wheeler. Around 9 a.m., it rolled out of PNC Park headed south toward Bradenton.
Bonnett has gotten used to packing the team up when it is cold, then getting out of the truck in the bright Florida sunshine.
“A lot of time, we have been working, we have been packing, and there has been a nice, cold breeze coming through here. It’s been chilling, so this has been nice, especially after last week, this is nice.”
Most of the gear is baseball specific, but there is personal luggage for the players and their families. That includes baby stuff for growing families, and golf clubs for when there is no baseball.
“There’s a couple baby strollers,” says Bonnett. “You pick up and move from here. A bunch of families go down and that’s their two months. We try to help as much as we can to get some of their stuff down there.”
How long does it take to get there? Recker says that changes every year.
“It all depends on weather. It can be anywhere from 14 to 17 hours,” he said.
The plan is for the truck to arrive after two days of driving.
“He’ll be there probably Thursday night. We’ll unload it Friday morning,” says Bonnett. “Then, we will take the next two days down there Friday and Saturday. Hopefully, by Sunday we have everything done and take a day off or something before the grind starts.”