Bronson Arroyo bounded off the mound in the first inning Sunday after striking out the side. For a brief moment, he looked like the 29-year-old who joined the Cincinnati Reds in 2006 in a lopsided trade with the Boston Red Sox — Wily Mo Pena’s name will never be forgotten thanks to that deal.
Time has caught up to Arroyo, now 40. He made his 383rd start in the big leagues in the final game of a three-game homestand, and judging by his post-game comments, it might have been the last start in his 16-year career.
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Arroyo (3-6, 7.35 ERA) allowed five earned runs on seven hits in three innings in an 8-7 loss, the ninth in a row for the Reds (29-39). They fell 7½ games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.
“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.’”
Arroyo planned to talk to Reds manager Bryan Price on Sunday night or Monday about his future.
“I think my arm is probably going to be checkmate,” Arroyo said. “I’ve got some tears in my shoulder we’ve been masking with cortisone for a while. It held up for the first three months. I got another shot. The second one has disappeared after three weeks. It’s almost as if the body has gotten used to cortisone as it does.”
Arroyo owns the highest ERA in baseball for any pitcher who qualifies for the league leaders. His performance this season is not a reflection of his career. He ranks seventh in Reds history in career starts (279), sixth in strikeouts (1,157) and tied for 12th in wins (108). One day, he’ll likely join the Reds Hall of Fame.
Arroyo didn’t pitch in the big leagues in 2015 and 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He has had plenty of time to ponder the end of his career, and the thought crossed his mind when he left the game Sunday. He admitted it could be his last game.
“Tommy John is like changing the chain on a bicycle,” Arroyo said. “It doesn’t matter how bad the chain is if the rest of the bike is OK. You change out the chain, and you continue to move forward. The shoulder is more like your favorite shirt you’ve been wearing for the last 15 years. It gets washed too many times, so it gets very brittle. When you have some tears in there, there’s really not a whole lot you can do about it. We’ve been doing the best we can by masking it with cortisone the entire season, including spring training. That’s not going to work anymore. I don’t know if we have any more options.”
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