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‘Old man’ Arroyo pitching better than ever

Bronson Arroyo doesn’t look like an old man. He has the best hair on the team. He might be in the best shape of any Reds pitcher. He starts or punctuates many sentences with, “Man,” like a teenager might do but can talk at length and with authority about any subject.

A couple of weeks ago in the clubhouse, Arroyo turned the volume on his laptop all the way up to show an old video of him playing with Pearl Jam — not something an old guy would do, unless you consider Pearl Jam peaked about two decades ago.

In the world of baseball, of course, Arroyo is an old man. He turned 36 in February. He’s the only current Red born in the 1970s. He’s the only Red old enough to be president.

Cesar Izturis and Jack Hannahan, both of whom turned 33 earlier this year, are the next oldest Reds. Arroyo looks even older compared to his fellow starters, all of whom were born in 1986 or 1987.

Arroyo, who starts the third game of the series against the Pirates tonight at Great American Ball Park, said he enjoys having the younger players around, even if they sometimes call him “old man.”

“I don’t know if it’s pushed me personally because I think regardless of what’s around me, the embarrassment of getting your (butt) beat in this game would be enough,” he said. “But I’ve enjoyed having the energy around me. I think I’ve had a better time being around these guys than I would if the staff was all my age because I’ve always connected more with youthfulness and try to stay relevant in the world.”

Arroyo is in his eighth season with the Reds and is on pace for one of his best seasons. He’s 6-5 with a 3.27 ERA. A free agent after this season, Arroyo has already cemented his place in Reds history. He ranks 10th in career starts (247) and eighth in strikeouts (1,041).

Arroyo has pitched well enough that he could well end up in the Reds Hall of Fame some day.

“That’s something I don’t think about,” he said. “It’s just weird, man. I’ve said it a lot about other guys. You look at Brandon Phillips’ numbers, and they’re neck and neck with Joe Morgan, and you think of Joe Morgan as a god, but when you play next to Brandon Phillips for eight years, you don’t think of him as anything but Brandon Phillips.

“It’s just the way we are. You always think of yourself as that 14-year-old kid who was afraid of dogs or snakes or whatever, and you don’t think of yourself as Michael Jackson or whatever it is you have become in life. It’s hard to think about the Reds Hall of Fame thing. At the end of the year, I’ll have 100 wins, and I’ve done some things that will probably put me in there, but it’ll be definitely special, man.

“It’ll be nicer when I’m done and I can look back on the accomplishments I’ve had.”

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