Twins get packing for Florida
Clubhouse staff fills equipment truck ahead of Spring Training
MINNEAPOLIS -- More than 30 inches of snow has fallen on the Twin Cities area this winter and a thick layer of the fluffy white stuff still covers the playing surface at Target Field, the Twins' new ballpark that's set to open on April 12.But for the Twins, Friday brought a sure sign that spring is truly right around the corner. The team's clubhouse staff spent the day packing up a 52-foot long tractor-trailer that will haul 36,000 pounds of equipment, training and administrative supplies -- along with some personal items -- to the Twins' Spring Training home at the Lee County Sports Complex in Fort Myers, Fla. The process of shifting the team's operations nearly 1,700 miles south doesn't happen overnight. The clubhouse staff actually spends most of the winter preparing for the big move. But this year the process has been a little different due to the club's recent move to Target Field. "It actually has been a lot easier this year," Twins clubhouse manager Rod McCormick said. "When we moved out of the Metrodome we packed for Spring Training right then. We've had a semi loaded since November 1 that's ready to go to Spring Training. So on the baseball side of it all those things are already packed up." Among the various items to be sent down to Fort Myers were the usual things included in the trek every year -- close to 50-dozen bats, over 80-dozen pairs of socks, nearly 1,000 hats, 400 pairs of pants and an assortment of 650 jackets. There are also medical staff supplies and office items for the club's front office staff that have to be loaded on the truck. Personal items for staff members and their families -- from suitcases to cribs, bikes and golf clubs -- always are included in the annual trip as well. The Twins are fortunate that not everything has to be transported on the truck. Since the Lee County Sports Complex is home to some of the organization's operations year-round, the Twins are able to keep some things at the facility. Other items are then shipped separately to Fort Myers such as the club's supply of 640-dozen baseballs for the spring. After the 18-wheeler is packed up with the rest of the supplies on Friday, it's scheduled to depart the Twin Cities on Sunday morning and complete its two-and-a-half day journey by arriving late Tuesday night in Fort Myers. The next stage of the process will begin Wednesday morning at Hammond Stadium when the group unpacks and prepares for the arrival of pitchers and catchers on Feb. 21. The job of driving the truck down to Fort Myers belongs to brothers Paul and Tom Luxem of Berger Transfer. The Luxem brothers have been responsible for driving the Twins' equipment to Florida for the past 21 years. Their first trip to Fort Myers came before the 1990 season. And since then it's become an annual tradition for the two -- one that symbolizes to them the changing of seasons. But while every year there is anticipation for the trip down to Fort Myers, this year there is a little bit more considering all of the moves that the club has made this offseason to upgrade a team that won the AL Central Division in 2009. "It's exciting to go down to Spring Training, especially when you have a team like we have this year," McCormick said. "The expectations will be very high. So I think everybody is excited to get down there."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.