Dusty Baker on Bronson Arroyo:
It was just an inning of relief work in an intrasquad game, but for Bronson Arroyo it was sort of a big deal. Arroyo, 39, was facing live hitters for the first time since June of 2014 on Monday afternoon in Viera and he retired the side in order.
It was a big step for the veteran of fifteen major league seasons who is attempting to come back to the majors after undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing the entire 2015 campaign.
He's back with manager Dusty Baker, who managed the Cincinnati Reds when Arroyo was in the rotation from 2008-2013.
Baker liked what he saw from the right-hander on Monday, as he told reporters after the second of two intrasquad games the Nationals played.
"Bronson can pitch and he only missed a couple locations and that's really pretty good," Baker told reporters.
"He was sharp. Most of the guys have been sharp, but Bronson, it's nice to see him sharp this early because he's been off a couple years and I didn't see him labor at all and his delivery and everything looked the same.
"Sometimes when guys are hurt you can sort of see them cutting them off or whatever, but he's got some miles left in him."
Under Baker's supervision, Arroyo reached 200+ innings in five of six seasons when both were with the Reds, so he knows what the righty is capable of doing when healthy, which is the big question now.
He was asked what signs he's looking for from Arroyo, that will tell him that he is healthy?
"It's really going to come from him," Baker explained. "He'll tell me. The main sign is going to be once he gets to multiple innings how he responds in between days."
If he's healthy, could Arroyo crack the rotation, pushing Tanner Roark to the pen potentially, or maybe knocking 22-year-old right-hander Joe Ross out of the mix? Baker was asked who, in particular, Arroyo is competing with at this point, though he, predictably, declined to name a specific pitcher.
"I don't want to go into that because I don't want to put any pressure on these guys," he said.
"I just want them to perform and then let us have the tough decision versus competing against this guy or that guy.
"He knew when he came here there were five kind of lead dogs before he got here and then you've got some guys that I haven't seen before that are looking pretty good too, so most of the time it takes care of itself and we'll see."