When the Arizona Diamondbacks signed Bronson Arroyo late in the offseason they didn’t necessarily get the number one starter they were looking for. However, what they did get was a guy who was very durable, throws 200 innings every season, and consistently wins 10 plus ball games. He provides depth for the D’backs’ rotation and he is a leader in the clubhouse. He also had never missed a start in his career and has never had to go on the disabled list. However, you know that whenever any team in any sport signs a 37 year old to a two year deal late in his career, age and injury are going to catch up eventually. That is exactly what happened to Bronson this past Tuesday. He missed his first start of his career, spring or regular season because of a bulging disk in his back. The original prognosis was that he would be out 7-10 days but that could turn into a month pretty quickly.
Bronson’s streak of never missing a regular season start is alive and well and he plans to keep it that way as he told Steve Gilbert of MLB.com: “I’ve made every start in my whole career, man,” Arroyo said. “I’ll find a way to make it out there on Day Five. I’ve made every one of my big league starts and it wasn’t because I felt good every time. You find ways to get out there and you hope things don’t come up that are this drastic to where it actually shuts you down.” Arroyo knew something was wrong when he was running sprints on Sunday explaining the situation to Gilbert: “I was running some sprints and it locked me up really bad,” Arroyo said. “About as good as I’ve ever been locked up, really. I made all my starts through Valley Fever and mono that spring, but I couldn’t have pitched Tuesday. I couldn’t pick my left leg up and I couldn’t bend over. I wouldn’t have been able to get dressed for the game.”
This is not the first time he has had a problem with his back and it has to be worrisome that it is the same disc that gave him trouble in 2008 and 2011 suggesting a potential trend late in his career. Bronson, of course is not worried. “I’ve had to pitch with it as stiff as it is today at least a couple of times during the season,” Arroyo said. “I think I’ll play catch tomorrow and start slowly getting right back at it. Get my work in and get my arm in shape.” Manager Kirk Gibson on the other hand is not ruling out a possible D.L stint: “I don’t have a timetable for when he’s going to get on the mound, but I’m pretty encouraged by it right now,” he said. “I think if we get three starts in he’ll probably be OK, but we’ll play it by ear. We know he doesn’t want to go on the DL so we’ll try and avoid that, but if he has to, he has to.”
While many in the organization are not too worried about Arroyo given his track record, I am worried. I am beginning to wonder if the D’backs made the wrong move inking a pitcher of his age to a two year contract. At the time I thought it was a good deal, and I understand that the teamneeded depth but I have to wonder if the D’backs made too big of a financial commitment signing Arroyo. With this injury, considering its the same disc that gave him trouble in the past, 200 innings is not guaranteed and that is the whole reason they signed him. I’m beginning to wonder if they should have gone with Archie Bradley and just see what happens. Granted Arroyo’s injury doesn’t involve his throwing arm but the back is a pretty important part of a pitcher’s body. I guess will have to see what happens but for the first time in his career, the health of Bronson is a concern.