Fay: As Bronson Arroyo's career appears at an end, it's good to remember what a great Red he's been

CINCINNATI -- The announcement will likely come any time now.

Bronson Arroyo is done. He said as much after another horrible outing Sunday.

“You have to put up enough quality starts for a ball club to want to keep you around, you know?” Arroyo told reporters afterward. “That could have been the last time I was on the field, yeah. It's just the way it is.”

It’s too bad it will end this way. Arroyo has been as good a Red as they come. I’m talking the total package -- on-the-field performance, leadership, community involvement.

The local chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America gives the Joe Nuxhall Good Guy Award every year. Arroyo won it a couple of times. But honestly, the winner most years was the best guy not named Bronson Arroyo simply because we didn’t want to give it to him every year.

Arroyo never turned down an interview request. He’s funny, cerebral and brutally honest.

I remember when the performance-enhancing drugs stuff was going on in baseball. The subject of amphetamines came up. Someone asked Arroyo if he ever took them.

“Of course, I took a greenie on a day game -- a 12:35 game pitching against Johan Santana,” he said.

So did lots and lots of other players, but only a guy like Arroyo would admit it.

But he also had a huge impact on the franchise here. The hallmark of the teams during the nine-year run of losing seasons starting in 2000 was bad starting pitching. To wit: Elmer Dessens (28-27 as a Red) made MLB.com's Reds All-Decade team for 2000 to ’10.

Arroyo came over from the Boston Red Sox and started to change that. He was a guy who had won, and he was a guy who got the most out of the very least of stuff. His 108 wins are 16th most in Reds history.

Arroyo’s public image -- guitar-playing party boy with long blond hair -- belied that he was a dedicated player. He’s a workout freak. He eats well. And he gets his rest.

“Everyone thinks he’s good-time Charley,” Dusty Baker used to say. “But this guy works.”

The example Arroyo set had a profound influence on Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. (Even Arroyo couldn’t save Mat Latos). Arroyo spent a lot time counseling young players on things other than baseball. He talked about money, business, what’s important in life.

Arroyo also gave a lot to the fans. The last conversation I had with him was about his three “stalkers.”

There's nothing malicious about the three women who have made a habit of following Arroyo around. They've shown up at hotels, where he plays music, at the ballpark.

“Other guys don’t have that because they don’t engage the fans,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo always has. He’ll chat up anyone. He gave away thousands of dollars worth of tickets every year to friends and strangers.

What he did this year was miraculous. He came back from shoulder and elbow surgery at 40 years old and pitched in the big leagues. He was good at times. But he’s mostly been bad lately.

He’s always said that a guy like him has to be able to put up a quality start two of every three times out. He obviously can’t do that.

So its time to move on. It’s too bad it ended this way. But don’t feel sorry for Arroyo. He’s probably going to hit the road and visit all the friends he’s made in the game.

It will be a long trip. 

John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at johnfayman@aol.com.

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