Fay: Arroyo poised to make Reds comeback

Fay: Arroyo poised to make Reds comeback
Posted at 7:14 PM, Jan 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-01 11:58:25-05

CINCINNATI -- Bronson Arroyo is not officially a Red again, but it sounds very much like it will happen.

Arroyo has been in contact with president of baseball operations Dick Williams and manager Bryan Price all offseason.

"I’ve been talking with with Dick and Bryan," he said. "They’re trying to work out the details. They’ve got to get some stuff done. I’m hoping in the next few days or the next week that we can get something done."

Judging by the autograph line at the Holy Grail for Arroyo’s appearance on the Hot Stove League, the move will go over well in Reds-land. Arroyo has only talked to the Reds. If he’s back, it will likely be under a minor league contract with a chance to make the team out of spring training.

Arroyo, who turns 40 on Feb. 24, has not pitched in the big leagues since 2014. His season ended that year when an arm ligament tore off the bone. He had Tommy John surgery and then shoulder surgery, then tried to come back with the Washington Nationals last year without success.

"I'm finally throwing pain-free for the first time honestly since I had surgery," he said. "It took stem cells getting pulled out of my pelvis in August by Dr. (Jim) Andrews and shot in my elbow. The Nationals really afforded me the opportunity to stay in Rookie League all year and try to work out the kinks and figure out how much stress my arm could take.

"It took four months, but finally I feel like I can push myself out the mound to 100 percent and I might survive."

Arroyo has always said he’ll pitch as long as he can. That’s why he’s spent all this time trying to come back.

"It’s like fighting death," he said. "There’s nothing to do but to say: ‘Here we go, let’s see what we can do.'"

Arroyo’s best days were with the Reds. He went 105-95 with a 4.05 ERA over eight years. He threw 200 innings seven of those eight years (he threw 199 the other year).

It would be fitting for Arroyo to end his career here, but he doesn’t see this as a one-year shot.

"If I feel like if I can  survive this season, I can survive a few more for sure," he said. "The rest of my body feels good. It's going to be a matter if my elbow and shoulder can can take torque. If I can throw pain-free at even 84 to 86 miles an hour, I feel like I can be valuable as a starting pitcher in the league. But I don’t know if it’s going to do that.

"Hopefully, that’s what this spring training is going to do. It’s going let me know if this is the end of line or maybe I just needed a little longer to heal up because of the amount of innings I threw in my career and my age and also I had two surgeries. It’s kind of unprecedented for a guy to have the elbow and the shoulder done at age 37 after 3,000 professional innings."

Arroyo admits he thought about giving it up.

"It’s been an ebb and flow," he said. “They tell you it’s going to be 18 months for the elbow and nobody knows how long it will will be with the shoulder or if you’ll ever come back. There was times I’d feel pretty good when I’d throw five innings in the Rookie League. I’d say, ‘I’m coming around the corner.' Then the next time, I’d throw five innings and then I couldn’t touch a ball for 10 days. My arm would blow up on me.

"It’s been this process: It’s going to work. Then it’s not going to work. My friends would say, ‘You’re always so optimistic. Then we hear you say it’s not going to work anymore.'

"I was always optimistic because I knew I could go out there with what I had and survive. The last two years I couldn’t do that."

But Arroyo hasn’t lost that optimism since getting to the pain-free stage.

"If my arm doesn’t hurt, I feel like I can throw 200 innings like I always have," he said.

Arroyo went 7-4 with a 4.08 ERA in 2014 with Arizona, despite pitching with a tore ligament in his last six starts.

"In my mind, if I’m pain-free, I don’t really care how the ball comes out of my hand, I can find a way with my mind to beat big league hitters," he said.

If this doesn’t work out, what about coaching?

Arroyo laughed.

"No, definitely not," he said. "I would consider floating around the planet until I drop dead with my friends."

Classic Arroyo. That’s why they lined up at the Holy Grail to see him and why they’d love to see the Reds give him a shot.