Arroyo hopes to continue to be Mr. Durable
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In the era of Tommy John surgeries, closely monitored pitch counts and strict innings limits, it's rare to find a pitcher who can consistently throw 200-plus innings each season and remain healthy.
More than 200 pitchers went on the disabled list last year, but new Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Bronson Arroyo was not one of them. The 37-year-old has not spent a single day on the DL in his Major League career, despite pitching nearly 2,300 innings over 14 seasons.
"That's where most of my ego lies," Arroyo said. "We all want to win ballgames, you want to strike guys out, you want to have a good ERA. But the bottom line for me has been -- can you take the ball every fifth day?"
Arroyo has done precisely that, making at least 32 starts each season over the past nine years and never missing a start because of an injury. Those starts were not brief outings either; he averaged more than six innings each start and 210 innings per season since 2005. After becoming a full-time starter in '04, Arroyo is 129-113 with a 4.10 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP.
Since joining the Cincinnati Reds in 2006, Arroyo has led all National League pitchers in starts (265) and wins (105) -- remarkable for a player who was thought to be a high injury risk as a prospect.
"I was a thin guy in the Minor Leagues and came up [to the Majors at] 6-foot-4, 150 pounds, and people really weren't sure of my durability," Arroyo said.
The Florida native credits luck and genetics for his ability to remain injury-free, but he admits hard work -- on and off the field -- is crucial as well.
"My consistency on the mound is a reflection of my consistency in my workload leading up to being on the mound," Arroyo said.
That includes not missing workouts, a strict diet, sleep and keeping up to date on the types of medication and treatments he needs. Luck is always a factor, and Arroyo is fully aware of how blessed he has been.
"There are a lot of guys in the game that are doing all the same things I'm doing. I've just had a little more fortunate luck along the way," Arroyo said. "You get hit with a line drive, you could be on the DL."
A similar scenario happened to the new D-backs starting pitcher in April 2010, when he was with the Reds. Arroyo was struck in the right calf by a line drive off the bat of then-Cardinals outfielder Colby Rasmus. In typical Arroyo fashion, he finished the game, pitched eight innings and made his next start.
Arroyo believes the seemingly inhuman durability he displays may become far more common for other players in the future.
"The generation before me really didn't take care of their bodies as well [as players today]," Arroyo said. "I think you are going to see more and more guys be able to sustain a long period of time, like I have, without going on the DL."
Whether it's luck or perseverance, Arroyo's health and consistency were traits the D-backs desired in a starter, especially considering two of their pitchers, including Daniel Hudson, underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery last season.
Arizona signed Arroyo to a two-year, $23.5 million deal with a club option for 2016 on Feb. 12. His addition will provide much-needed depth to the team's rotation while allowing the organization to take its time with its top pitching prospects, namely Archie Bradley.
"[Arroyo] is very experienced, he's got a lot of wisdom and been through a lot of battles," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.
The skipper added Arroyo's attention to detail validates the message the coaches preach to their young pitchers. Arizona hopes his addition will help push the team back into the postseason for the first time since 2011 after finishing 81-81 the past two seasons.