For starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo, these next few weeks could be it.
A veteran of 15 MLB seasons, Arroyo is attempting to mount one of the most unlikely comebacks. He turned 39 on Feb. 24 and has not pitched in the majors since he had Tommy John surgery back in July of 2014. His potential return to the big leagues is nearly two years in the making and he will admit it could be his final stand.
"It’s going to be interesting, it’s going to be fun. I really don’t know if my arm is going to handle the pounding of throwing here every day in these games and that’s what I’m here to do and see if it works out," he said.
Arroyo could have signed back with the Cincinnati Reds, where he called home for eight seasons before moving on to the Diamondbacks, with whom he last appeared in the majors. But Dusty Baker's presence as the Nationals' new manager helped convince him Washington was the place to be.
"From not pitching in a year-and-a-half and not behing healthy, I was going to have to re-establish myself in a place that hopefully was going to have somebody in a position of power who had been around me before. You didn’t want to go to an organization where nobody knew you and then come into spring training and maybe not look amazing out of the gate. I wanted to have that comfort level of knowing that Dusty’s been around me for five years. He’s seen me pitch in playoff games. He’s seen me look terrible in spring training. He’s seen a variety of Bronson Arroyo," Arroyo said.
Arroyo has never been know for being a guy with overpowering stuff. He has never gone a season with his fastball averaging 90 miles per hour or more. Arroyo felt it may be hard to impress a new coaching staff with his 87 mile per hour 'heat.'
"At least when [Baker] watches me he might be able to look under the surface and in between the lines to know that there’s some potential there to maybe help this ballclub out," Arroyo said.
In order for Arroyo to make the Nationals' roster, he'll have to duke out some promising young arms. To wiggle his way into the rotation, that could mean outperforming guys like Joe Ross and Lucas Giolito. It's an opportunity Arroyo cherishes, even if it is all new to him.
"This is the first time I’ve been in this position in 12 or 15 years. You’re used to coming into a ballclub where you’re cemented into that rotation and you’re on a guaranteed contract in spring training. Then it’s kind of easy breezy. It’s kind of full circle. You battle when you’re a 20-year-old kid against some of the older guys and now I am that older guy who’s battling against the young kids," he said.
Watch the video above to hear more from Arroyo, including his opinion of Baker as a manager.