PITTSBURGH -- It was Bronson Arroyo's first trip to the All-Star Game, a return trip to Pittsburgh, where he made his big-league debut in 2000, and reunion with some of his old Red Sox teammates. Plenty of reason to celebrate for the Reds' ace. And, apparently, that's just what the fun-loving Arroyo did upon his arrival to the Steel City on Sunday night after making the start for the Reds in Atlanta earlier in the day.
When asked Monday if he'd be available to pitch in Tuesday's 77th annual All-Star Game at PNC Park, Arroyo didn't seem to be jumping at the chance to represent the National League. "I feel fine," he said. "But I had a late night [Sunday]. So I told [NL manager Phil Garner] if he could fill nine innings without me, go ahead and do it." A late night from travel? "No, a late night at the bar," Arroyo said with a laugh. Hey, that's part of the fun of being an All-Star. And Arroyo isn't one to shy away from a good time. "It's great to come back to this city," he said. "I spent eight years in the Minor Leagues in the [Pirates] system. Being in a town that you're somewhat familiar with the ins and outs of feels good." What felt best for Arroyo, though, was suiting up in the NL uniform for Monday's workout session at the ballpark. He earned the right to wear that uniform with a first half that's seen him go 9-6 with a 3.12 ERA in 19 starts for a Reds team that has, somewhat surprisingly, been hanging tough in the NL Central race. "It's an honor, obviously, to be in this uniform, no matter how many times you come [to the All-Star Game]," Arroyo said. "But for my first one, it's something special, especially coming to a new team." When he was traded to the Reds in exchange for Wily Mo Pena during Spring Training, Arroyo had his reservations about joining a new team. He was comfortable, to say the least, in Boston. Though the Reds offered a more prominent rotation opportunity, he was leery of the move.
Halfway through his first year with the club, though, Arroyo is a satisfied man."I was disappointed in leaving Boston," he said. "But being able to come over to the National League for the first time in a while and get off to a great start and have numbers worthy enough to be here is definitely great." Arroyo is the first to admit that pitching in the NL has been a benefit for him. "From what I've seen this year, it's been a tremendous difference," he said. "Just having the breathing room of the pitcher in the 9-hole, being able to pitch around the 8-hole guy. The lineups just aren't as deep, I don't think, especially compared to the American League East, [where] facing the Orioles and Blue Jays and the Yankees 19 times a year was tough. I find myself pitching a little bit easier, especially the back end of those lineups." Arroyo's manager, Jerry Narron, has spent time in both leagues. But he had never been a part of the All-Star experience until Monday. Called upon by Garner to round out the NL coaching staff, Narron, who said he might do some of the coaching at third base Tuesday night, was taking in Monday's workout like an excited fan. "I don't see how even if you've been here a dozen times it wouldn't be special," he said. "I love the game and being a part of it. The thing I enjoy about my job is being able to compete against the best players in the world. I can't imagine anybody not wanting to be here among the best of the best." Indeed, it's an event worthy of celebration, as Arroyo can attest.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.