Arroyo's sim game should be bridge to rotation

Reds' 40-year-old tentatively scheduled to make comeback on Saturday

Arroyo's sim game should be bridge to rotation

CINCINNATI -- It was a final hurdle to cross before he could return to the Major Leagues, but it appears that Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo crossed it without difficulty. On Sunday in a simulated game in Goodyear, Ariz., vs. Cincinnati Minor Leaguers, Arroyo threw 90 pitches over six innings.

"Reports on everything he did were very, very positive," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Monday. "I'm really happy with how that worked out."

Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco was behind the plate for Arroyo in the outing.

"He was working against some young 18-year-old kids that have never seen anything like it before," Mesoraco said. "It was just a simulated game. They were just up there hitting. A lot of foul balls, a lot of swing-and-misses. It was definitely interesting."

Arroyo is tentatively slated to make his 2017 debut for the Reds on Saturday vs. the Cardinals. The club is keeping that slot as "TBA," and it will not make a transaction until that day.

"He hasn't done anything to deter us from thinking he could make that start," Price said.

Arroyo, 40, pitched for the Reds from 2006-13, but he was deemed somewhat of a long shot in Spring Training as a non-roster invitee trying to come back from 2 1/2 years out of the big leagues. With the D-backs in '14, he needed Tommy John surgery on his elbow and also had shoulder surgery.

In 2015 with the Nationals, Arroyo was unable to make a comeback because his arm could not hold up to throwing. During Spring Training for Cincinnati, he had a 4.70 ERA in three Cactus League starts, but often remarked how good his arm felt during and in the days after pitching.

Arroyo battles for rotation spot

Price believed Arroyo would be a big part of a young rotation without much experience.

"It's the reliability factor and the influence that he has on those around him," Price said. "We've got some question marks. I'm confident the young guys that we have here are going to pitch well and do really well. It's nice to have a mentor."

Of course, being out of the big leagues for so long also makes Arroyo a little less predictable than the right-hander who threw 200 innings in seven of eight seasons in Cincinnati.

"Nobody knows that answer but him," Price said. "It's with optimism that I see him coming to our team and being able to handle the workload that I could be handing him when he is, in fact, activated."

Mesoraco in clubhouse

Mesoraco, who started the season on the 10-day disabled list as he works his way back from 2016 right hip and left shoulder surgeries, was in the Reds' clubhouse for Opening Day. However, he did not know the timetable or plan for what's next. A rehab assignment is one of the possibilities.

"I definitely feel better than I did at this point last year," Mesoraco said. "We'll come up with a plan and go from there. The powers that be are still working on it."

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.