MANCHESTER — Leroy Coffin — “just like the box,” he said — left Dunedin, Fla., a couple of hours before noon on Friday and rolled into the parking lot behind the New Hampshire Fisher Cats clubhouse at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium with his tractor trailer full of baseball, office, weight room and assorted other equipment just about noon on Sunday.
A bus carrying the Fisher Cats themselves, just in from their flight from Tampa, arrived about 10 minutes later.
The pieces are in place for the 2014 season that opens on Thursday night against the Thunder in Trenton.
“Some of the guys know what it’s like to be here already, but Opening Day is coming so that’s a little different,” said first-year Fisher Cat manager Bobby Meacham, a former New York Yankee who led Dunedin, the Toronto Blue Jays’ Single-A club least year.
“For a lot of guys it’s their first chance in Double-A, so that’s different,” he said. “The excitement is building. I’m sure as we get going it will overflow into having some fun and having a great time but working hard and trying to exhibit what we’re all about. That’s doing the best we can and playing as hard as we can and giving the people here a good effort every night.”
Shortstop Kevin Nolan, a local guy who played at Nashua South, is one of the guys who has been here before and tied for third on the team in runs batted in with 60 last year.
Right-handed starter Aaron Sanchez, a first-round pick in 2010 who has been labeled Toronto’s No.1 prospect, is one of the newcomers.
The roster does not become official until today, but Nolan and Sanchez were on the flight and the bus.
First baseman K.C. Hobson, who also played at Nashua South when his father, Butch, managed the Nashua Pride, did not make the flight. He had been considered a potential Fisher Cat, but will apparently start the season with Dunedin.
Sunday was a day for setting up.
“We’re getting everything all settled in,” Nolan said. “Getting a locker settled, getting a uniform ready, getting a few hats, getting ready for the season.”
Nolan later was heading for home to Nashua where he stays during the season.
Others were bound for hotel rooms for a couple of nights until they are able to line up apartments.
The team has its Media Day this afternoon and its first workout after that.
The weather has forced the first couple of workouts indoors.
Nolan warned his teammates, especially the newcomers, about what they were in for with a delayed spring and a raw day on Sunday with temperatures that were struggling to get to 40 degrees.
“Flying down and seeing the snow on the ground, it’s a little different than the Florida weather,” he said. “The new guys are excited to move up to the next level and weren’t sure what to expect.
I told them it was going to be cold. They got used to it pretty quick.”
“These guys, all of them aren’t from California,” he said. “Some of them are used to this. We’ll be ready when the bell rings. Spring hasn’t shown up here, I hear.”
Before Nolan and his teammates had collected their new hats, Leroy Coffin was back in his rig and back on the road.
He had a couple more stops to make to help get a couple more seasons started.
His truck also carried supplies for two other Blue Jay affiliates. He planned to be in Buffalo today with stuff for the Triple-A Bison and in Lansing, Mich., on Tuesday with gear for the Single-A Lugnuts.
The Fisher Cats get back on the bus at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning for Trenton, N.J., and the season opener against the Thunder on Thursday night at 7:05.
They play four games in Trenton through Sunday and move on to Reading for three.
The home opener on Thursday, April 10, against Binghamton at 6:35 kicks off a four-game set against the Mets. New Britain is in for three from April 14-16 to complete the first homestand.