Bronson Arroyo sat down earlier this season in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse with a member of the media and told stories about random former teammates as their names were pulled out of a hat.
Arroyo went on and on about each of the 10 players whose names were read. Arroyo will go into the Reds Hall of Fame someday for his pitching accomplishments, but he could easily be inducted for his quotes alone. The media loves a good interview subject. No one was better than Arroyo in recent years.
The final chapter of Arroyo’s career may have been written Sunday. He left the mound after three innings, having allowed five earned runs in an 8-7 loss to the Los Angeles. He didn’t get a standing ovation.
No one knew he wouldn’t return to the game or that it might have been his last appearance. The thought did cross Arroyo’s mind. On Monday, the Reds placed him on the 10-day disabled list.
On Sunday in the clubhouse, he expressed no regret about returning to the mound this season at age 40, even though he has been far from his best and rarely showed the ability that made him a cornerstone of the Reds’ staff from 2006-13.
“Just to make this ballclub,” Arroyo said, “to get out there, be able to play the game and win some ballgames, battle with these guys in the locker room, get some hits, run the bases, everything that comes along with playing Major League Baseball, it’s been fantastic. I was gone for almost three years. You want your body responding in a positive way as you’re running down that road, and it started to and now I’m seeing it come downhill. There’s only so much you can really do.”
Arroyo has done plenty for the Reds over the years. Here are seven things to know about his career:
1. Lopsided deal: The Reds traded Wily Mo Pena to the Boston Red Sox for Arroyo on March 20, 2006. Arroyo appeared in 279 games for the Reds. Pena appeared in 157 games in two seasons with the Red Sox.
“We’re getting a solid major league starter who has pitched in big games,” manager Jerry Narron said at the time. “He knows how to compete and can throw any pitch over the plate on any count. He’ll give us 200 innings, which we definitely need.”
2. Hurt feelings: Arroyo wasn’t happy about the trade at first. He won a World Series with Boston in 2004 and had just bought a house near Fenway Park. He never got to live in it.
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“I knew it was a possibility I’d be the one because I’m a young guy (29) who has a pretty low salary that is appealing to other teams,” Arroyo said then. “But I really didn’t think they’d trade me.”
2. Peak performance: Quick success in Cincinnati helped Arroyo feel at home. He made the National League All-Star team for the first and only time in his first season with the Reds. That helped erase the sting of being traded.
“Since I’ve been in this uniform, everything has played out nice,” Arroyo said in 2006. “Starting out as hot as I have, us being in contention … a team everyone expected not to be here. For me to make the All-Star team is something I never expected.”
Arroyo was 9-6 with a 3.12 ERA in the first half that season. He finished 14-11 with a 3.29 ERA. He set career highs in starts (35) and innings pitched (240 2/3).
3. Innings eater: Arroyo has thrown 1,761 1/3 innings for the Reds. From 2006-11, he led the team in innings every season but one. He ranks 12th in franchise history in innings among players who have pitched since 1900 and trails only Tom Browning (1,911) among players who have pitched in the last 30 years.
4. Playoff return: The Reds won the National League Central Division in 2010, ending a 15-year playoff drought. Arroyo (17-10, 3.88 ERA) led the team in victories.
Arroyo started Game 2 of the Division Series against the Philadelphia Phillies and allowed one earned run in 5 1/3 innings. However, the Reds lost 7-4.
5. Standout performance: When the Reds returned to the playoffs in 2012, Arroyo started Game 2 of the Division Series against the San Francisco Giants. He allowed one hit in seven scoreless innings in perhaps the most important start of his career. The Reds beat the Giants 9-0 on the road to take a 2-0 series lead only to lose the next three games in the best-of-five series.
“We couldn’t put ourselves in a better situation,” Arroyo said after the game. “Doesn’t mean you’re going to close it out, but for us personally, I know the fans are going to be as jacked as they have ever been in that ballpark since it has been built, which is going to be nice. But that being said, we’ve got to calm it down a little bit and stay the task at hand because we haven’t won anything and baseball is a crazy game.”
6. Century mark: Arroyo won his 100th game with the Reds on July 23, 2013, in San Francisco. He has won 108 games in his Reds career, tying him for 12th in team history. His career record stands at 148-137. His career ERA is 4.28.
7. Injury woes: Arroyo left the Reds after the 2013 season, signing as a free agent with the Arizona Diamondbacks. After pitching 199 or more innings eight years in a row, he was placed on the disabled list in June 2014 for the first time in his career. He underwent Tommy John surgery on his elbow that July and didn’t return to the big leagues until this April with the Reds.
“I haven’t been feeling too hot, and my shoulder is starting to slide downhill a little bit,” Arroyo said. “You could see the (velocity) was down. I was just trying to pitch as comfortably as I could and try to hit my spots. I’ve just been getting hit around the yard man for a while. It’s a tough situation trying to perform when you feel like you’re running uphill into the wind all the time. I was hoping my arm was going to continue to get better and better as the year went on, but it’s almost like it’s telling me, ‘Hey, man, I’m not going to run this race for you anymore.’”