Sports

February 14, 2012

Rangers keep truckin' into spring training

Equipment truck heads for Arizona with increasing load.

ARLINGTON -- Back in 1977, Richard "Hoggy" Price remembers driving a 24-foot U-Haul truck filled with baseballs and bats and anything else the Texas Rangers might need during their spring training trip to Pompano Beach, Fla. Times have changed, though.

The Rangers now use an 18-wheeler, and Price, the Rangers' equipment manager, and his crew spent nearly two hours Tuesday morning packing up for spring training.

The truck is expected to arrive at the team's complex in Surprise, Ariz., on Friday, five days before pitchers and catchers have to report. The full squad reports on Feb. 25 with the first full workout on Feb. 26.

Among the items on the truck are 100 cases of baseballs, 200 helmets, 20 cases of sunflower seeds and 50 cases of coffee.

Price said the team loads up on grocery-type items like seeds, coffee and Powerade in Texas because they like "to deal with our own local sponsors here and then take it all west.

"And there's no place that the cooking tastes best other than home," Price said.

As far as baseballs, the 100 cases breaks down to 1,800 dozen -- 1,000 dozen regular baseballs and 800 dozen practice balls. In all, that's 21,600 baseballs or $115,275 worth. When spring training is over, the team will come back with about 100 dozen.

"Depends how many are given away, and how many are hit out," Price said.

Why doesn't the team have the balls simply shipped to Arizona?

Well, Price said, bullpen catcher Josh Frasier and students from a Rockwall school have a "rubbing party," where they rub the baseballs with mud to make them easier to grip.

The truck doesn't carry bats, but two dozen bats for every player is shipped directly to Surprise. Twenty-four bats seem like more than enough for each player, although one player is likely to need more than that.

Price said Josh Hamilton will run through his allotment before Opening Day because of broken bats or ones thrown into the stands.

David Murphy, on the other hand, feels two dozen bats will last him a while.

"That should take me through the first half of the season," Murphy said.

With two daughters and a son, however, Murphy is bringing along a few more toys himself.

"I know we've packed a dollhouse," Murphy said, smiling. "I'm not sure what else because my wife packed the bins."

Briefly

Outfielder said he's ready for spring training. He leaves for Arizona on Saturday, and will have a chance to become the starting center fielder. "That's what I want to be," Gentry said. "I feel I got a really solid chance to be an everyday player. I've always been that guy just scratching to maybe make the team, so I'm excited about this year."

David Murphy is focused on improving three things offensively: putting more weight on his back foot; being shorter with his swing, especially on outside pitches; and doing a better job of going to the opposite field.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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