CHICAGO -– The departure of A.J. Pierzynski via free agency to the Texas Rangers was a tough offseason moment for White Sox fans to handle.
Little did they know that some of Pierzynski's stuff lasted a bit longer than he did in Chicago, remaining at U.S. Cellular Field until Friday's Truck Day.
Head equipment manager Vince Fresso, who begins his 29th year with the organization, was asked by a group of reporters for any special or strange requests that were made in loading up the truck for its Arizona departure. Fresso smiled and pointed to the White Sox fan favorite who called Chicago home for the past eight seasons.
"A.J. is gone and he's getting his 20-some boxes to go over there with the Texas Rangers that he stored here over the years," said Fresso, with Pierzynski soon to train in Surprise, just 15 to 20 minutes away from the White Sox. "That's the only special request. I love A.J., but we've got a lot more storage room now."
Pierzynski's accumulated stuff represents just a small part of the cargo on the truck that took off from a frigid Chicago on Friday and was expected to arrive at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., sometime around Monday -- depending on the weather. It's a process that began well before Friday morning's loading and won't be quite complete for another week to 10 days according to Fresso.
White Sox pitchers and catchers report right around that time on Feb. 12. White Sox position players report to Camelback Ranch on Feb. 17, with the first full team workout to follow.
"You usually start right after the first of the year. Stuff starts rolling in here," Fresso said of the truck preparation. "Majestic boxes and stuff we need.
"Today is all the other departments, from community relations on down to scoreboard, general manager, all the stuff for the support staff that goes with us to Spring Training. The truck will roll in [to Arizona], we'll unload it, situate it, get all different department heads down there and start setting up our clubhouse, and get ready for another Spring Training.
"It takes a good day to set up our offices and get everybody ready to go," Fresso said. "Sort out their personal luggage, office supplies and all the other good stuff they bring in their trunks."
This Spring Training doesn't feature a great deal of White Sox changes from 2012, other than Tyler Flowers replacing Pierzynski behind the plate. Jeff Keppinger has joined the White Sox at third base, and Matt Lindstrom was a recent addition to a top-notch bullpen. Jake Peavy returns through a two-year deal, and Gavin Floyd's $9.5 million option was picked up for the 2013 campaign.
Some players will trickle in on Feb. 11, getting their lockers situated for the six weeks to come, an extra stretch at Spring Training brought on by the World Baseball Classic. The equipment will be in place and the locker room will be ready for yet another Spring Training, and with the Chicago temperature hovering in single digits and the wind-chill taking it well below zero on Friday, many Chicagoans would have loved to make the trip West with the White Sox truck.