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Arroyo: 'Pieces on the freaking [chess] board'

Posted by Gordon Edes, Globe Staff  March 21, 2006 11:18 AM

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Bronson Arroyo spoke with the media in Fort Myers this morning. What follows are a sampling of his comments:

Bronson Arroyo and Keith Foulke
Bronson Arroyo talks to Keith Foulke this morning before leaving Red Sox camp for the last time. (AP Photo)

  • ”Theo [Epstein] called me, as soon as I saw his name come up on my [cell phone] I figured he traded me. Yeah, definitely surprising. I always knew it was a possibility just because I'm a young guy who's got a pretty low salary, but I still didn't think he'd trade me, either.”

  • On whether he thought his contract made a difference:

    “If I went to arbitration and signed for one year for $4 million, it still would have been the same thing. Either way, teams looking at me know they wouldn't have to pay me that much more unless I won 20 games. There's still plenty of upside for them financially.”

  • What do you know about Cincinnati?:

    “Nothing. Dave Williams. I played with him in Pittsburgh. I played with Jason LaRue in the fall league, too. I know a few of their guys ... but basically no experience.”

  • You would have been underutilized here – does that make the trade any more palatable?:

    “I said all along I'd rather pitch out of the pen here than start somewhere else. I still feel that way right now. But it's good knowing that I'll get 33-35 starts and not have to worry about being left out of the rotation. Still doesn't change the fact that I want to play in this uniform.”

  • From your point of view -- young, 200 IP -- did the Red Sox trade the wrong pitcher?:

    “I don't know, man. Theo made this move because he thinks it's best to help out this team whether it helps the team out more than if I was still here we'll never know. I'm not going to be here, but as long as they keep you know, they still have six guys here. As long as they keep five of them healthy I'm probably not hurting the team very much by not being here. Obviously, if two or three guys went down it would hurt the team a little bit, but you never know.”

  • What was it about Boston and the team that made you want to sign that contract?:

    “Just, you know, going to Fenway Park 81 times a year, man. There's an excitement in that place I'm not going to get anywhere in the National League except maybe Wrigley. So that was the No. 1 thing. And then, just the group of guys we've had that a lot of 'em still here, pitching to Varitek. I felt like Boston was my second home and I hadn’t felt that way about any other place I've ever played. So, you know, stuff kind of being uprooted. You feel like you're being ripped out of your home. That's the way the game is.”

  • How long will it take for the trade to sink in?:

    “Probably when I turn on the TV and see the Red Sox playing, you know, and I'll be placing someplace else. You know, it's tough, man, but what are you going to do. All you can do is go pitch. I got three years until I'm a free agent so I'm going to pitch and see where you end up.”

  • When will you pitch next?:

    “I'm pitching Saturday, so if I pitch Saturday, there's a chance I'll pitch here (next Thursday).”

  • Did the Sox express anything about coming back here?:

    “I haven't talked to Theo for more than two minutes.”

  • Have you talked to Red manager Jerry Narron or GM Wayne Krivsky?:

    “No I talked to three other people. I don't even know who they were. I couldn't listen, you know, my brain was scrambled yesterday after Theo told me that. I talked to a few other people, some of the clubhouse guys. That was it.”

  • Where were you when you got the call?:

    “I was in Brooksville, packing up for the season. It took me three extra hours to pack up my stuff because my phone was blowing up. Got the call sometime in morning, around 10:30 or so.”

  • Does that muddle the line between friendship and business, when you get a call like that from Theo?:

    “We were pretty close. Probably as close as you can get to a GM as a player, but you know, the game is business, man, that's what it's about. It doesn't matter how you feel personally about somebody. You just make the best move. It's like playing a chess match, man. Just pieces on the freaking board. That's what players are in the business. It doesn't matter how much they like you. They're not going to not make a move because of personal feelings.”

  • Is there a part of you that wants to say, “how could you?”:

    “Uh, yeah, a little bit. Of course, man.”

  • ”I feel like I've done a lot of good things around here. I've been the type of player that definitely done things that they've asked of me, but that doesn't always keep you around, you know?”

  • You said they made no guarantees that they wouldn't trade you, but what was the conversation?:

    “The conversation almost exact was ‘I'm not signing this deal to end up in Tampa Bay in two weeks.’ And they said to me, ‘There's no deal for you on the table right now and we don't foresee trading you in the near future.’ Those were the exact words. Near future is relevant to whatever you think. Obviously, there was no guarantee. But in my mind, this is pretty soon. But um, you know, they told me there was no guarantee, and I knew that. But I figured it would probably be further down the road if that happened, pitching bad around the All-Star break or whatever. But it was move they had to make now. I think they felt like you know, if I went into the bullpen they wouldn't be able to move me for a guy as good as Wily Mo or that I'd have as much value if was pitching out of the ‘pen.

    “There have been so many rumors about me over the last couple of years I honestly stopped worrying about it. People text me all the time about trade rumors about me and I write all of them off because they never happen and you hear so many different ones. But I was surprised when Theo called me, I was really shocked. But I'd heard the day before after I pitched, somebody text'd me and said I heard the Reds are making a deal for you and Wily Mo and this time it was true.”

  • Does it bother other players 18 months after the World Series, that so many guys gone?:

    “Some guys probably don't care. They just show up at the park and play, But I'm sure there are guys ... I talked to [Kevin] Millar yesterday. All we talked about was how this team is ... there's probably 30 of us that were probably on the team, maybe a couple of more, in '04 and like you said there aren’t many guys left around. But like I said, personal feelings don't matter. It's about making money and about having the best team you can have on the field.”

  • Was this a wakeup call?:

    “It's one of those scenarios you feel will never happen to you. Nobody thinks they're going to be the one, whatever, to get in a car wreck to have their, you know, their kids killed in a plane crash, whatever, you don't think those things are going to happen to you. And I didn't think that I'd be traded. So.”

  • A reporter quoted a scene from “Animal House” in which the character Otter tells the Flounder character, “You bleeped up, you trusted us.” Do you feel that way at all?

    “I mean, it really isn't about trusting somebody unless they told me point-blank, 'We'll never trade you.' And if that was the case, they would have given me a no-trade clause. So, I don't feel like they betrayed me or anything like that. It's just a tough situation and I'm disappointed. I mean, I felt like I had done enough around here that they would keep me but obviously they've got different plans. That's the way it goes.''

  • What will it be like pitching against the Sox?:

    “Like pitching against Kevin [Millar] when he's in the Orioles lineup. Pitching against a bunch of guys I played against. Makes it fun.”

  • Who goes down?:

    “Who goes down? I don't know. Manny just signed a bat for me, so I guess it won't be him.”

  • What was the tone of your conversation with Theo?:

    “He was more apologetic. It was tough for him. He basically said you know, ‘I got some news I know you don't want to hear and I really don't want to tell you but that's the way it is, we traded you.’ I mean, I’ve been close enough with him obviously it bothered him. I'm sure it bothered him earlier not being able sign Kevin [Millar], just guys he enjoyed being around. But sometimes it doesn't work out.”

  • What’s your plan for the next few days?:

    “Long toss around 4 o'clock and pitch Saturday, I guess I needed a day to relax, and just get my thoughts settled, and just figure out some stuff. I just bought a place in Boston, a lot of things that come along with moving to a new city. I'll take my time, get my stuff together, mosey on up to Sarasota.”

  • When did you buy your place in Boston?:

    “I guess about month and a half ago I closed on it. It was soon after (signing the contract), which kind of sucks, but what are you going to do?”

  • “If you asked me, ‘where do you want to be traded?’, I'd say if there was a place I have to pick, I don't want to go anywhere else. But I'd rather be still in the East just because there is such a rivalry here, in this division, especially with Toronto and Baltimore looking like they have pretty good teams. But just the way it is, man, maybe we'll get in a dogfight with Astros, Cardinals and Cubs.”

  • Do you like to hit?:

    “No I hate hitting, I hate bunting, I hate learning the signs, I hate sliding. Getting yanked out of games when it's your at-bat and it's the sixth inning second and third. But I've been there before. I'll go pitch for three years, become a free agent and see where I end up.”

  • On the chance to start regularly for Cincinnati:

    “That's the only benefit. Obviously when I go over there and get used to the guys and start winning games everything will work itself out. Knowing that I will start every fifth day is definitely a positive about going over there. But it still doesn't make it any less disappointing to leave here.”

  • What about Wily Mo Pena?:

    “I said hi to him (Wily Mo), saw him briefly.”

  • Clubhouse attendant Pookie Jackson handed Arroyo a parcel, and said "here's your last package."

    Arroyo’s reaction: "A 3 wood. I'm going to need it.''

  • Fans back home wonder if they’ll see you at Avalon down the road:

    “I don't know, I don't know where, man, this road is taking me. I'll see how the season goes. I'm sure I'll end up in New England, doing a few things in the offseason.”

  • Just putting in your time in Cincy?:

    “I'll enjoy competition of playing ball, playing in the major leagues regardless of where I'm at. But you know, I felt Boston was my home. The first time I ever been in a place where I felt it was home other than in Florida. It's tough because I kind of feel I’m regressing back to three or four years ago. You feel like you're living out of a suitcase. You don't know where you're going to be. The place is not yours. You just fill it up with furniture and at the end of the season you move it all back to Florida. Go back and forth. That's what really is tough about it, I'm feeling like I'm being uprooted from a place I've been very comfortable with.

    “I'll probably end up hanging out with [Kevin] Youkilis' parents a lot.”

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