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Reds pack up for Goodyear trek

Reds pack up for Goodyear trek

CINCINNATI -- Go west, Reds truck.

For the first time since World War II and only the second time since 1923, the Reds' equipment truck for Spring Training isn't heading south to tropical Florida. It's headed west to the desert and the team's brand-new complex in Goodyear, Ariz.

"The truck driver will need another day of driving, I know that," Reds equipment manager Rick Stowe said on Thursday. "Instead of two days, it's three days for him to get out there."

From 1998-2009, the Reds' spring home was in Sarasota, Fla., a 976-mile journey from Cincinnati down Interstate 75. The ride to Goodyear will obviously be a much longer trek -- 1,863 miles to be exact.

Stowe and his staff have spent the past several days making countless trips from the Reds clubhouse to a tractor-trailer truck parked at a loading dock inside Great American Ball Park. Everything must be ready to go in time for a Friday departure.

Inside the back of the truck, the contents were familiar -- black trunks full of equipment, medical staff supplies and boxes upon boxes of what could be labeled simply as stuff. That includes personal items for staff members and their families -- from suitcases to cribs and bikes.

There will also be hundreds of helmets, shirts, socks, hats, jerseys and about 21,000 baseballs. There were skids of coolers and cups and cases of sunflower seeds and gum.

"We're bringing a lot of stuff that we're going to leave out there," Stowe said. "The truck is filling up a lot faster than it has in years past because there's a lot of stuff we brought home from Sarasota to bring out to Arizona."

Among the items making a one-time only journey are pictures for the walls, bunting and a one-of-a-kind trinket -- the Governor's Cup that was used for the exhibition games that used to take place between the Reds and Indians. It's a series that will be revived since the two teams share a main stadium while practicing in adjacent complexes.

"It's little things but there are 45 boxes of little things, you know?" Stowe said.

At the destination, members of the clubhouse staff are already at work. This week, the Reds are holding their first fantasy camp in Goodyear and the fans participating are getting to break in everything before the players.

"The guys who are out there for dream week now say it's awesome," Stowe said. "They've had nothing but rave reviews. I think once we get set up out there -- it'll be just like getting into a house and out of the boxes. It'll take a couple of weeks.

"Everything is an upgrade. I'll actually have an office. The last 11 years, my office was next to a dryer. Every time somebody called, I had to turn off the dryer or washing machine to hear somebody on the other end."

Reds pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Spring Training on Feb. 18 and hold their first workouts the same day. Stowe will be out much earlier to help get everything set up for their arrivals.

Stowe's office phone has been used a lot, too, as he's been getting in touch with outfits like catering companies, seamstress workers and the Coca Cola Co. in Arizona.

"It's, 'Do we have enough trash cans or clocks, or laundry baskets?'" Stowe said. "Dusty [Baker] called me and said, 'Don't forget my bookshelf. Don't forget I need a cork board in my office.' We're running out and trying to take care of that little stuff."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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