Arroyo faces batters as comeback attempt continues

Reds starter hasn't pitched in Majors since 2014

Arroyo faces batters as comeback attempt continues

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds hitters facing Bronson Arroyo during batting practice on Tuesday weren't being fooled, and that's exactly how the veteran starting pitcher wanted it.

Arroyo threw 40 pitches to Brandon Dixon, Aristides Aquino and Gabriel Guerrero. The almost 40-year-old knows hitters like to face him in BP, and the Minor Leaguers now know why.

"It was good. I just always pump fastballs in there for those guys to hit," Arroyo said. "For one, it's another level up from the bullpen as far as intensity. Just purely going out there and throwing 40 pitches like that gets you tired; you get winded when you're working pretty fast. I like when guys hit the ball. I don't want to be trying to trick them. It gets a lot more daunting to have guys take stuff. A bunch of four-seamers right down the middle, and kind of build the intensity as I go."

A non-roster player attempting a comeback after not pitching in the Major Leagues the past two seasons, Arroyo is trying to earn a spot in the Reds' rotation, which he was part of from 2006-13 while winning 105 games. He's competing against several younger pitchers, including prospects such as Amir Garrett, Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson.

Tuesday's session was not meant for Arroyo to have to impress the Reds' decision-makers.

"As many years as he's been in the professional game, he's built a routine that's worked for him," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "For me, it's more of an endurance challenge for Bronson than it is mixing up all of his pitches."

Arroyo on his health

There was no radar gun on Arroyo's session, but he certainly wasn't powering in any high-velocity fastballs.

"As long as it's pain-free, I'm good. As far as the ball coming out, it's kind of a subjective word. It's not going to be coming out like compared to everybody else in this camp. It doesn't mean you can't get outs with it," Arroyo said. "I don't think I was even throwing 88 [mph]. It might have been 78, I have no idea. At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. You've got movement, you've got command, you find a way to get people out."

Arroyo signed as a free agent with the D-backs in 2014, and tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow after 14 starts and needed Tommy John surgery. He also later needed right shoulder surgery. On a Minor League deal with the Nationals last season, he pitched in two Minor League games before being shut down.

The plan is for Arroyo to get one more session against Reds hitters before he gets a start in a Cactus League game.

"Maybe I will flip a few curveballs next time," said Arroyo, who will earn the Major League minimum of $535,000 if he makes the team. "It's so awkward with the screen. You don't want to hit your own guys and stuff. Most of the time, I throw all fastballs, and as soon as we go one inning in a real game here, I'm usually just game on.

"At this point, I kind of need to get a feel of everything early on. You get out in those games, that's when the intensity goes up much more. There's more adrenaline because people are watching, your stride length goes out a little bit. That's really the test; I need to see if my arm is going to handle it. And then if your arm can handle it, can you get somebody out? There's a progression there."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.