Tigers mascot PAWs helps load the trailers every year. Whether he's lifting a few packages or taking a quick break, his presents always brings smiles and make the backbreaking work a bit easier. (Photo by HB Meeks/Tell Us Detroit)

  Tigers Spring Training equipment truck loaded and ready for Florida sun

By Aaron Best
Tell Us Detroit Sports

DETROIT - Detroit Tigers Spring Training season is fast approaching and they are loading up the moving truck to transport the club’s equipment from Comerica Park to their Spring Training home in Lakeland, FL. The clubhouse staff started loading the truck at 8am Monday and will go well into Tuesday morning when they plan a departure to haul equipment to Joker Marchant Stadium.

According to Jim Schmakel, the Tigers' clubhouse and equipment manager, the team starts to pack for spring training as soon as the previous season ends. For over 40 years Schmakel's job to make sure the players have everything they need once they are there. "Can hardly wait," Schmakel said. "Especially after last week and the minus-15 [weather], we're ready to go."

The Tigers will fill the first truck, which Schmakel calls the equipment truck, with about 40,000 pounds of gear. The second truck, which carries most of the front-office shipments and remaining clubhouse gear, will have some space left for special requests made by the players.

Once the gear is loaded up, the tradition continues. The Tigers have used the same moving company and drivers -- Frank and Bob -- for years to bring the equipment to Florida. Bob serves as the leadoff man, driving the first truck, and Frank handles the cleanup spot. Each will time his drive in order to avoid rush-hour traffic through major cities like Atlanta.

Once the first truck arrives Wednesday afternoon, many of the clubhouse assistants who loaded the trailers are on hand to unload the equipment, having flown to Florida the previous day.

"We'll probably empty that truck by about 1 or 2 in the afternoon," Schmakel said. "And then we work 12 hours a day for the next two or three days just to put everything in their slots. It takes about two or three full days to get all of our stuff in place, and by then we're on the 12th and the players are in full force."

Tigers mascot PAWs helps load the trailers every year. Whether he's lifting a few packages, taking inventory of boxes, or trying to hitch a ride in a box, PAWs is there to make workers smile and make the tough work a bit easier.

Tigers pitchers and catchers hold their first workout on Feb. 13. The first full-squad workout is Feb. 18.

Jason Beck contributed to this story. Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.





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