Spring forward: Mets' truck heads south

Mr. Met leads Citi Field packing crew in sign that baseball is almost back

NEW YORK -- One thousand, one hundred and seventy-six miles until spring.

The Mets' equipment truck officially pulled out of Citi Field on Thursday and onto 126th St. in Flushing, where it began the nearly 1,200-mile journey south to Port St. Lucie, Fla. The truck will arrive in plenty of time to greet most of the Mets' pitchers and catchers, who are scheduled to report to Spring Training by Feb. 15. Position players must report by Feb. 20.

For the Mets and other teams, the equipment truck's departure is the first tangible sign of winter's end. Clubhouse manager Kevin Kierst and his staff have spent the past few weeks organizing, packing and loading equipment for the roughly 80 players and coaches who will attend this year's camp.

Mr. Met posed for photo opportunities around the truck on Thursday as Kierst's crew loaded on the last of that gear. The truck carries everything from helmets and uniforms down to soap and shampoo.

The Mets have already officially invited 62 players to camp, and they could add a few more in the coming days if they sign additional free agents. The team is still flirting with shortstop Stephen Drew, though signing him remains a long shot, and could add a reliever or two to fight for jobs in camp. Other than that, the roster appears set with nine days to go until the official start of camp.

Many Mets are already down in Port St. Lucie, including manager Terry Collins and third baseman David Wright, who always reports weeks early. Other early reporters include pitchers Bobby Parnell and Jenrry Mejia, catcher Anthony Recker and outfielder Andrew Brown. The bulk of the roster is expected to arrive next week.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.