Red Sox Truck Day Live: Passionate Sox Fans Brave Cold Weather, Send Off Equipment Truck in Style

Red Sox Truck Day1:14 p.m.: Feel free to pass along any cool Truck Day stories as well. There was a good crowd out there braving the elements, so I know you guys have some good stuff for me.

1:12 p.m.: Since we’ve already seen how top notch my photo skills are — yes, that’s sarcasm — I encourage you all to send along your Truck Day photos. Send them along on Twitter to either me (@TheRickyDoyle) or to @NESN with the hashtag #TruckDay. We’ll be featuring the best ones in a NESN.com photo gallery.

12:44 p.m.:  Apologies to those already brave enough to follow me on Twitter, in which case you will have already seen a few of these photos.

Thought I’d pass along some quick shots of a very empty clubhouse and of the truck itself. Also, as mentioned, Middlebrooks caught up with the media, and he made it clear he’s healthy and ready to roll this season.

Of course, let’s not forget Wally as well. While everyone else was freezing their keister off, the jolly green monster was rocking a Hawaiian shirt. He failed to mention if he got it from Shane Victorino — The Flyin’ Hawaiian himself — but it was a pretty awesome shirt, nonetheless.

12:30 p.m.: OK, so we all know Truck Day is a big deal around these parts. But what exactly makes the trek on board the 18-wheeler?

Well, first and foremost, there’s Milford, Mass., native Al Hartz. He’ll be driving the truck down to Fort Myers for the 15th straight year.

As far as the assortment of equipment and supplies that are packed inside the 53-foot vehicle, here’s a quick breakdown that was passed along by the team’s media relations department.

20,400 baseballs
1,100 bats
200 batting gloves
200 batting helmets
320 batting practice jerseys
300 pairs of pants
400 T-shirts
400 pairs of socks
20 cases of bubble game
60 cases of sunflower seeds

The celebration of Truck Day has been a Boston tradition since 2003.

12:25 p.m.: So here’s the part where I apologize for going two hours between updates. And with any luck, you’ll all forgive me. I just got back inside at Fenway, though, where a passionate crowd just sent off the Red Sox’ equipment truck in style.

Will Middlebrooks and Larry Lucchino were among those who stopped by to greet fans and speak briefly with the media. Middlebrooks just had himself a nice workout, saying that new teammate Joel Hanrahan even busted out the fungo bat. The Red Sox third baseman also admitted that last season left a bad taste in his mouth, and he’s clearly among those chomping at the bit.

10:01 a.m.: Of all the reasons for Red Sox fans to be optimistic going forward, the club’s farm system is perhaps the biggest. MLB.com unveiled its list of the top 100 prospects in baseball last week, and the Sox were well-represented.

Boston had six prospects in the top 100 (tied for the most in baseball), with Xander Bogaerts leading the way at No. 20. Bogaerts might not make an impact with the big club this season, but his future is extremely bright and he continues to climb the organizational ladder. Jackie Bradley Jr., who checked in at No. 32, is also an intriguing prospect, especially given Ellsbury’s uncertain future.

Click here to read about the Red Sox’ top prospects >>

9:45 a.m.: One offseason move I didn’t mention earlier, mainly because it didn’t receive quite the attention that the other deals did, is the addition of first baseman Lyle Overbay. Overbay isn’t the same player he once was, and if he cracks the Opening Day roster, it’ll be in a bench role. It’s still definitely something to keep an eye on this spring, though.

I wrote at length about the move last week, but it’s one that I felt the Red Sox had to make. Sure, it’s not going to turn too many heads at first, but given Mike Napoli’s hip condition, Overbay could see a good amount of at-bats this season.

9:35 a.m.: There are a lot of interesting storylines entering this season, but one that’s particularly intriguing is John Lackey.

At this point, there is really no telling what to expect from the veteran right-hander. He, of course, missed all of 2012, and he’d be the first one to tell you he hasn’t gotten the job done since signing a lucrative, five-year deal with Boston before the 2010 season. Still, there is plenty of hope within the organization that he can still turn things around and become an effective starter this season.

Farrell thinks Lackey could make a big impact in 2013. He described the righty as “upbeat,” and praised the shape that the hurler is in heading into spring training. Farrell said it looks like Lackey dropped 12 to 15 pounds.

Click here to read more from Farrell on Lackey >>

9:25 a.m.: It’s only 9:25 a.m., but curiosity is already settling in. When it comes to the Red Sox’ offseason additions, who is everyone most excited to see in 2013?

Like I said, the team’s manager really embodies the new, gritty, hard-nosed mindset of the 2013 squad, but it’s the players who need to go out and perform.

The team’s lineup is going to look very different this season. Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino and Stephen Drew are new additions to the starting lineup, while backup catcher David Ross is also thought of very highly throughout baseball. Ryan Dempster, meanwhile, should help solidify a rotation that clearly didn’t pitch up to snuff last season. And it’s hard not to like Boston’s bullpen with Joel Hanrahan and Koji Uehara added to the mix.

In fact, comparing last season’s team to this year’s version is in many ways an apples to oranges comparison. That’s especially true when you consider other factors, such as Will Middlebrooks’ continued development, Jacoby Ellsbury playing in a contract year and Jon Lester getting a chance to pitch under Farrell again.

9:09 a.m.: You’d be hard-pressed to find a vehicle that stirs up the type of emotion that the Red Sox’ 18-wheeler does every winter. Excitement, angst, optimism, pessimism, skepticism — you name it, and there’s someone in New England feeling it right now in regards to the Red Sox. Overall, though, if you’re a Red Sox fan, there are plenty of reasons to enter this season with a great deal of hope.

Obviously, the Sox have a lot of work to do in order to regain AL East supremacy in 2013. The division is absolutely stacked, and a 69-93 season generally leaves a bad taste in your mouth. But this year’s team is undoubtedly more talented, and the guys brought in are going to make this an exciting bunch, as well as one that’ll be very easy to root for.

GM Ben Cherington has been extremely busy this offseason, tapping into the open market to nab a number of free agents. However, he has done so with his eyes fixated on the types of players who will not only bring a great deal of talent to the ballpark every day, but who will also play the game with the passion that Sox fans expect game in and game out.

The culture change will begin and end with skipper John Farrell. He was the guy Boston wanted all along, and he immediately commands a great deal of respect within the clubhouse. Farrell has also had a busy offseason, as he’s traveled all over the place in order to reconnect — or connect for the first time — with some of the guys.

8:50 a.m.: While Tuesday marks the unofficial beginning of spring training, pitchers and catchers are scheduled for their first workout on Feb. 12. The first full squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 15.

That hasn’t stopped some Sox players from arriving in Fort Myers early, though. Jon Lester, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a few other guys have already touched down in Lee County. Clearly, they’re already focused on making up for last season’s woes.

Boston’s first Grapefruit League game will take place on Feb. 23.

8:30 a.m. EST: OK, now baseball is really getting close.

Tuesday marks the day that die hard Red Sox fans anticipate every winter: Truck Day.

This year, the Red Sox’ equipment truck, which will be departing at around noon Tuesday to make the 1,480-mile trek to the team’s spring training home in Fort Myers, Fla., features the slogan “Big Things Ahead.”

Serving as the unofficial beginning to spring training, Truck Day not only signifies that Opening Day is just around the bend, but it also gives us all a reason to talk a little baseball in the winter. (As if we needed a reason, really.) Fortunately, NESN.com’s live blog is ready to capture this year’s Truck Day in all its glory.

Everyone is encouraged throughout the day to slack off a little bit — it’s cool, you have my permission — and send along your two cents. Whether you have questions, ideas, concerns or just feel like getting your thoughts down on the Interweb, feel free to comment in the comments section below. If you’re feeling extra crazy, pop on over to social media. You can send along your thoughts on Twitter @NESN or @TheRickyDoyle, or you can start conversing on NESN’s Facebook page.

In order to keep the Twitter convo going, we’re going to be using the hashtag #TruckDay. You’re all encouraged to do the same. It’ll be fun I swear.

Now, assuming you already have your cup of java poured, how does everyone feel going into this spring training?

Photo via Twitter/@Monaghan21

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