KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros played on the road Monday afternoon, but there was plenty of hustle and bustle at the home complex in the morning as the support staff prepared for its long-awaited journey home.
The same 18-wheeler equipment truck that shipped everything to Florida seven weeks ago was loaded up over the weekend in anticipation of a Monday departure, at which time all items the Astros will need in Houston this year -- minus whatever the players need to get through the next three days, and all of the sunflower seeds and gum that was ingested/chewed over the past 45 days -- will head back to Texas.
The process for equipment manager Dennis Liborio and his staff to get the truck loaded takes a couple of days to complete, but after more than 30 years in this business, Liborio has it working like a well-oiled machine.
"This is old hat," Liborio said.
But it's a daunting task nonetheless. Packing for more than 40 people isn't easy, considering the loads of clothing and equipment needed and used by a single team over the course of the season: hats, T-shirts, belts, long johns, stirrup socks, shoes -- running, spikes, turf -- plus extra jerseys, pants and jackets.
Bulky equipment used by the athletic training staff and the video crew that needed to be loaded onto the truck as well.
These days, it's all about packing, packing, packing. And that's just fine with Liborio.
"It's great to be going home," he said. "It's time to start the season."
The traveling party will fly out of Orlando, Fla., on Thursday morning and head to Corpus Christi, Texas, where the Astros will play a 6:05 p.m. CT exhibition game with the Double-A Hooks at Whataburger Field. The Astros plan to use their Triple-A players in their final Grapefruit League game with the Braves in Kissimmee, Fla., that day.
The team will return to Houston that night around 11 p.m. and host the Indians for two games at Minute Maid Park over the weekend. Friday's game will begin at 7:05 p.m., and the clubs will meet again Saturday at 1:05 p.m.
FanFest will take place Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. and will end at the conclusion of the game. Admission to FanFest is free with the purchase of a game ticket.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.