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Rays load up trucks for trip to spring training

There’s a lot to take south, even though it’s only a short drive to Port Charlotte.
Clubhouse attendant Torian Sands gets a hand, and that's about it, from Rays mascot Raymond during Wednesday's equipment truck packing at the Trop. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Clubhouse attendant Torian Sands gets a hand, and that's about it, from Rays mascot Raymond during Wednesday's equipment truck packing at the Trop. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Jan. 30, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — For baseball fans, and some bored football fans, it’s starting to feel like spring training.

For Rays home clubhouse manager Ryan Denlinger, it definitely does.

Especially Wednesday morning, as he and his staff loaded the first of several 26-foot trucks with equipment headed south, albeit for the short trip to their spring base in Port Charlotte.

"It’s definitely something now,'' Denlinger said. "It’s happening. Are we going to Port Charlotte? Yes, as of today, we are going to Port Charlotte. And then the Super Bowl hits, and then it really starts to get going.''

The Rays keep plenty of equipment year-round in Port Charlotte, where they have two minor-league teams, their injury rehab program, instructional league and occasional minicamps.

But there is still plenty of stuff to be shipped down, particularly for the big-league players, who leave a lot at Tropicana Field during the offseason.

Wednesday’s load included 204 dozen balls, 20 dozen bats, 200 pairs of pants, plus assorted other items from the Trop’s trainer’s room and kitchen area.

"It just seems like there’s more and more stuff every single year,'' Denlinger said. "That’s the challenge. More equipment, more stuff. ... Things keep piling up every year. Everybody has new items for the new season.''

Also, Denlinger said, not forgetting anything as they set up for the early arrivals ahead of the Feb. 13 first workout — though the fact that they’re less than 90 miles away makes mistakes somewhat forgiving.

"You try to think of everything,'' he said. "You obviously don’t, but we try and fix that as we go along.''

Among the oddest items they packed Wednesday?

"I saw some leftover Seattle Seahawks gear from maybe Blake Snell, or Andrew Kittredge,'' he said. "I don’t know where it came from.''