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02/04/11 5:32 PM EST

Phillies pack up truck, send it off to Florida

Ah ... telltale signs of spring.

A 53-foot equipment truck left Citizens Bank Park at noon ET on Friday, filled to the brim with thousands of player and Phillies front-office items. Its destination: Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., the Phils' Spring Training home.

There was a lot of buzz at the ballpark before the truck's departure. Media arrived bright and early, hoping to capture the countless boxes lining the clubhouse corridors.

"This day is always exciting and always a huge event," said Joel Sanders, a FOX media member who hasn't missed the Phillies' pack-up day for Florida in more than 25 years. "It's like Groundhog Day ... you always know Spring Training is coming around the corner."

That same sentiment was felt by the dozen Phillies employees who had the task of essentially packing the entire clubhouse and sending it on the road.

"We pack whatever the players need," said manager of equipment and umpire services Danny O'Rourke, who has been overseeing the move the past few years.

That list includes 15 cases of gum (regular and sugarless), 12 cases of sunflower seeds, 20 coolers and a half pallet of POWERade mix, 250 batting practice tops, 300 helmets, 350 pair of shorts, 450 pair of socks, 600 pairs of pants, 600 hats, 200 fleeces, 1,200 bats, 2,000 T-shirts, 10,000 12 oz. cups, 15,000 baseballs and 150 pairs of batting gloves.

Then, of course, there are the hundreds of suitcases to load on the truck, as well as bicycles and bowling balls -- perfect for those rare moments of leisure time. Computers and exercise equipment? They are all part of the load, too.

And why so much stuff?

"It does us no good to have everything here in Philadelphia when the team's in Florida," said O'Rourke.

It took about four hours to put everything on the truck, and when it was time to leave, the drivers -- Anthony Castle and Marty Garland -- were more than ready, despite all that morning's heavy lifting.

Castle easily maneuvered the truck up the basement ramp and out of the ballpark gates, and he was met with some cheers from a few who had gathered to take photos of the truck's departure.

In response, Castle happily honked his horn and waved out the window. But not before saying what everyone wanted to hear:

"Heading to Spring Training!"

And with Phillies pitchers and catchers reporting in just 10 days, the excitement will surely continue for weeks to come.

Deb Rinaldi is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.