Mets equipment truck hits the highway

On the road: Equipment truck heads south

NEW YORK -- Moving is never fun -- packing everything you own, lugging box after box onto a truck, and then doing it all over in reverse when you get to your final destination.

Now imagine doing it on the coldest day of the season, with temperatures dropping below 10 degrees and the wind chill factor making it feel well below zero.

Yet as a New York Mets crew of about eight spent much of Monday doing just that at Shea Stadium, there were at least warm thoughts in the back of their minds. After all, this was the truck sending equipment, clothes and just about anything else you could think of down to Port St. Lucie, Fla., as the Mets prepare for Spring Training.

"It gets the season going, it means it's here. You get yourself going," said Matt Herbert, 23, starting his second season as a Mets clubhouse attendant. "Everything that you could think of that they need is going down -- socks to uniforms to everything."

Everything is right. A quick glance inside the Atlas Van Lines big-wheeled behemoth showed weights, exercise equipment, carts full of bats and boxes labeled "helmets," "jerseys" and "golf shirts."

There wasn't much room to breathe, either, as every inch of the truck was being filled.

This wasn't even the first truck the Mets sent to Florida. The first one left Shea Stadium right after the postseason, when the Mets sent all leftover game-used equipment to Port St. Lucie for Minor Leaguers and anyone else working out there to use.

Frozen on Monday, Herbert will get a chance to warm up Wednesday when he and the rest of the Mets' staffers arrive in Florida to meet the truck.

Tom Cercena, the Mets' clubhouse manager for umpires, won't be so lucky. He's staying in New York while the boxes he's carrying are ticketed for the Treasure Coast. Still, the sight of a moving truck in February stirs up thoughts of a new season.

"It says it's really here," explained the 37-year-old Cercena, who has worked for the Mets since 1986, when the team won its last World Series. "What is it, a couple of weeks away?"

Sooner. Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 16, with full-squad workouts scheduled to start on Feb. 21.

Yet even the happiest of thoughts and the presence of Mr. Met couldn't ease the pain of carrying equipment with numb hands and trying to talk with frozen faces.

"It's horrible. You have to keep moving around trying to stay warm," Herbert said. "It's hard."

Peter Zellen is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.