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Baseball Notes

Arroyo has dealt well with life in Cincinnati

By Nick Cafardo
July 11, 2010

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Bronson Arroyo still wonders what Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein was thinking the day he signed off on a 2006 trade with the Reds for Wily Mo Pena.

“I’m sure it’s not one [trade] that Theo has on his mantle at home,’’ kidded Arroyo. “I still don’t know to this day why they made that trade. I know everyone must have signed off on it. It was crushing at the time but I knew I had to try to put it behind me and just concentrate on going to Cincinnati and just trying to resume my career and be the best I could.’’

Arroyo did that.

Epstein has never shied away from taking responsibility for a bad trade. He’s explained in the past that at the time the Sox had extra pitching, and he decided to take a chance on a powerful young hitter, who just didn’t pan out. Pena is trying to work his way back to the major leagues with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League, while Arroyo has gone 62-54 with a 4.00 ERA in 4 1/2 seasons with the Reds, for whom he’s 9-4 this season.

Arroyo has been both effective and durable. Epstein made everyone forget about Arroyo when he added Daisuke Matsuzaka. But after giving the Sox two very good seasons, Matsuzaka has become an enigma. Arroyo, meanwhile, marches on.

“I’m never gonna be anyone’s No. 1 pitcher, and I’ve always had to prove myself,’’ Arroyo said. “But I give you durability and innings and I go out and make my 33-34 starts every year. I know a lot of superstar pitchers who haven’t been able to give their teams the kind of consistency I provide. That’s where my value lies to a team. And now having been in this league I have mental images of all the hitters and it’s a constant game of how to get people out, and I’m sure they play the same game with me.’’

Since 1993, Arroyo said he has not put his arm in ice after he’s pitched. He has a rubber arm that seems to adapt to any situation.

“I found that icing made me sorer, so I stopped,’’ Arroyo said. “I used to just hop into the hot tub after I pitched and tried to get that blood flowing that way. Now I probably jump into the hot tub in about one-third of my starts. I just have one of those bodies. I guess part of it is physiological, but part of it is how I was raised. I have pictures of me in the weight room when I’m 7 years old, at my father’s urging. I felt my dad built a good foundation for me and he helped me create a body that could take a pounding and allowed me to endure a long season and everything it entails. To this day, I have the same routine. I’m in the weight room, I don’t put anything bad food-wise in my body, I take my vitamins, and I rest two days before I’m supposed to pitch. It’s a formula that’s worked well for me.’’

He hasn’t pitched fewer than 200 innings in five years, and he’s had two 14- and two 15-win seasons in the majors.

“For the first couple of years [in Cincinnati] it was just me and Aaron Harang, but then we added Johnny Cueto,’’ Arroyo said. “The big thing this year is we have Mike Leake, so now when we face teams they look at our staff in a completely different light. We’re a tough staff to beat now and we have a lineup that’s pretty tough up and down.’’

“I guess where we are is surprising to some people around baseball,’’ Arroyo added of the first-place Reds. “But having been here for a while now, when we were able to get Orlando Cabrera and Scott Rolen you could just tell this was going to be a good team. Those two guys have come in and had great years and shored up our defense. They’ve given us a lineup top to bottom that’s consistent and tough. People always asked me what made those Boston lineups so good, and I always say it’s a guy like Bill Mueller who hits down at the bottom of the order and grinds out at-bats and makes it tough on opposing pitchers. We have that now.’’

Arroyo, who is being paid $11.625 million in the final year of his contract, would love to stay in Cincinnati.

“I think it would be sad to have to leave here, especially now where we’ve fought so hard to get to this point and we’re in first place and there’s a lot of excitement about our team,’’ he said. “I don’t know what the resources are for next year and whether they can keep some of us around. I guess we’ll find that out soon enough, but we’re just trying to enjoy what we have going right now. I’m one of these people who could adapt to Antarctica if I had to. Once I get into a routine I can probably live anywhere. I’ve certainly adapted to playing and living in Cincinnati, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve never forgotten Boston because it’s an unforgettable place. There’s no better atmosphere to play in or pitch in than Fenway Park. It’s off the charts, so you never forget that.’’

PREVENT DEFENSE
Great pains being taken by Pagliarulo
Medford native Mike Pagliarulo (left) has founded the Baseball Institute of Development in Naples, Fla., and the former Yankees third baseman hopes it leads to discoveries of how baseball can help prevent injuries and become more cost-effective.

“We’ve begun work on pitching alignment and a science-based document will be released prior to the end of the season,’’ Pagliarulo said. “The actual work has spanned five years. From the data we’ve collected on every American League pitcher during the past two seasons, there is almost a 30 percent higher rate of injury that could be corrected without touching their mechanics. The information we’ve acquired is better than 95 percent accurate and data has been captured by three sources.’’

Pagliarulo told this reporter a couple of years ago that Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen was at high risk for an arm injury, based on his findings. In fact, Pagliarulo identified Delcarmen, who is currently on the disabled list with a forearm strain, as one of the most high-risk pitchers in baseball.

“His pitching mechanics are below average and haven’t changed over the last couple of years,’’ Pagliarulo said. “He tends to short-arm the ball and lacks arm extension. Puts a lot of stress on his elbow.’’

Pagliarulo added that Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg, “who we’ve seen since his junior year [at San Diego State], his arm slot is different in his last two starts.’’

“We’ve got better athletes, better facilities, baseball is in 60 countries around the world, but injuries in baseball increase and talent has gone down 15 percent in the last seven years,’’ said Pagliarulo. “Our mission is to bridge the gap from sports knowledge to sports medicine. We’ll do this by translating elite baseball wisdom from the language of sports to English and from an interdisciplinary platform. Our aim is to first gain acceptance that baseball language exists, which it does, then use our methodology to translate and benefit clinical research. The problem today is clear; not Dr. [James] Andrews, [Glenn] Fleisig, [Thomas] Gill, or any players from the field can define skill. Because they can’t define it, they can’t measure it.

“There is not one performance health expert that is able to tie directly any exercise to baseball skill. To the muscles they can tie all kinds of jumping rope and balloon runs, but they can’t directly tie it to skill. Until they can define skill, their projections and estimates about performance health is only subjective.’’

Pagliarulo, whose work is aided by a former baseball team doctor and former players and scouts, said baseball spends $3 billion in salaries, which is half the industry revenue and costs owners some $300 million in liability insurance. Pagliarulo feels his system will help teams make smarter choices and reduce health risks to players.

It seems that between Pagliarulo’s research and new products such as PitchSight, a computer-based measure of pitching mechanics devised by L-3 Communications of Burlington, major league teams would be able to improve performance and reduce the risk of injuries. But they appear reluctant to take the next step.

FITTING CHOICE
Consider Cabrera for crown
We often try to project who will be the first major leaguer since Carl Yastrzemski to win the Triple Crown. We’ve all taken our shots over the years, and never been right. It’s hard to do, which is why it hasn’t been done for 43 years.

Well, here we go again. I submit the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera (above), an intriguing combination of power and skill, as a hitter who could have a chance. Chipper Jones said last week of Cabrera, “Offensively, Cabrera is every bit as good as [Albert] Pujols.’’

Cabrera is one of the feel-good stories after the horrible ending to his season a year ago. There were whispers about the Tigers dealing him as part of their austerity campaign, which started when they traded Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson in a three-team deal that saw, among other things, Yankees center fielder Austin Jackson and Diamondbacks pitcher Max Scherzer come to Detroit.

Many thought Cabrera and his $20 million salary would be next. While some tires were kicked, teams found it would require the outlay of major talent and the taking on of major money. The Tigers have to be glad they kept him, considering he’s matured tremendously after undergoing counseling in the offseason following a wild drinking incident.

Cabrera came back serious and focused. He went out of his way in spring training to show a more mature side, and he succeeded.

Entering yesterday, Cabrera was second in the American League with a .346 batting average, was third to Toronto’s Jose Bautista with 21 homers, and was second with 74 RBIs. He also was second in the AL with 26 doubles, led in slugging percentage at .644, and led with an OPS of 1.065.

ETC.
Apropos of nothing
1. Adrian Beltre had hit the most home runs among active players who hadn’t made an All-Star Game, until he was finally selected. Beltre hit 262 homers before being named. Matt Stairs has hit 261, and will likely never go; 2. The Red Sox drafted Kendrick Perkins, a center fielder from La Porte, Texas, in the sixth round; 3. Only in America can a team in bankruptcy court (the Rangers) obtain the best available pitcher (Cliff Lee); 4. The Marlins were the only National League team that had used the same five starting pitchers, until today, when Alex Sanabia will go in place of Chris Volstad, who was optioned to Triple A; 5. If I’m looking for that last piece to the pitching puzzle, I want Roy Oswalt.

Updates on nine
1. Fausto Carmona, RHP, Indians — There are interested parties (Milwaukee, and Texas until the Lee deal) sniffing around about Carmona, who was named to the All-Star team, quite a turnaround for a guy who went 5-12 with a 6.32 ERA and couldn’t be given away last season. Not a bad alternative, if the price isn’t too high.

2. Adam Dunn, 1B, Nationals — We’ve written a lot about Dunn in this space, and unless the Nationals decide to commit to a multiyear, big-money contract for the perennial 40-homer, 100-RBI producer, the Nats may come to the conclusion that he must be traded. Dunn, who is making $12 million this season, can be a free agent and he’s become a centerpiece of the Washington offense, along with Ryan Zimmerman. Dunn had a three-homer game last week and by all accounts would love to stay put, but the Nationals may not be able to take the chance, and probably wouldn’t be willing to get into the $15-$18 million range with Dunn. Not sure many teams would, despite his stats.

3. Victor Martinez, C, Red Sox — Martinez was one of five ex-Indians named All-Stars, joining CC Sabathia, Lee, Brandon Phillips, and Arthur Rhodes. Unfortunately for the Indians, they have only been able to land three major leaguers in exchange — Justin Masterson, Matt LaPorta, and Michael Brantley. You have to feel badly for Cleveland. They’ve lost so many great players, and now LeBron James is gone, as well.

4. Lou Piniella, manager, Cubs — According to his agent, Alan Nero, there’s no way Piniella won’t finish out the season. As for the future, Nero has no idea. Piniella has said the Cubs would be his last managing job, and he will then retire to the Tampa area. But who knows if he could be lured into something else? For a team needing a jump-start for a couple of years, Piniella is always good for that.

5. Matt Garza, RHP, Rays — It wouldn’t be shocking to find out that the Rays would be willing to talk about Garza as a trade piece. Tampa Bay needs a hitter, and has righthander Jeremy Hellickson, who is 11-2 at Triple A Durham. The Rays were rumored to be in on Lee, but it appears they are more willing to deal players from their current roster instead of prospects. One NL scout said the Rays have been very willing to include B.J. Upton in trade talks, and would even consider moving Wade Davis in the right deal. The Rays would love to get an effective hitter, having been snakebit with Pat Burrell and Hank Blalock.

6. Ted Lilly, LHP, Cubs — Definitely one of the attractive second-tier pitching candidates available. The Rays have some interest, but he would also become a target for teams such as Texas, Minnesota, and perhaps Detroit. Lilly would likely be less expensive than Arizona’s Dan Haren and has, like Haren and Lee, pitched in both leagues. Lilly is 3-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 15 starts this season, but is 13 games over .500 for the Cubs over four seasons.

7. Kevin Towers, special assistant, Yankees — The former Padres GM is quickly emerging as a leading candidate for the Diamondbacks’ GM job after Josh Byrnes was fired. Jerry DiPoto was the interim choice, but Towers is the big name who despite being fired by Jeff Moorad in San Diego, probably gets the biggest slice of the credit pie for shaping this year’s Padres. Firing the well-regarded Towers was odd to begin with, but Moorad is also the guy who gave Byrnes an eight-year contract. Other names will emerge if Towers doesn’t want it. Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer, Red Sox assistant GM Ben Cherington, and Dodgers assistant GM Logan White are names that are also starting to pop up.

8. Evan Meek, RHP, Pirates — Here’s a guy the Red Sox should go after. Had Meek on my All-Star team last week, and NL manager Charlie Manuel agreed. Entering yesterday, Meek was 4-3 with a 1.11 ERA in 40 appearances, allowing 32 hits and striking out 45 in 48 2/3 innings. Meek, 27, throws 95 miles per hour and has a good slider. Lefthanders were hitting just .187 against him, righties .182.

9. Alex Wilson, RHP, Portland — Casey Kelly may be getting all the ink, but Wilson, the kid out of Texas A&M who had Tommy John surgery, is starting to put together a good season at Double A. Wilson has had two really bad starts but three very good ones, and is starting to get good reviews from scouts.

Short hops
From the Bill Chuck Files: “Matt Murton, an outfielder who was a first-round draft pick of the Red Sox in 2003, is leading the Japanese Central League with a .355 batting average in his first year in Japan. Playing for Kansai, he has a .407 on-base percentage, 54 runs scored, and nine stolen bases.’’ Also, “The Red Sox scored 166 runs in May and 166 runs in June. In June, the Yanks and Rays each scored 124 runs.’’ . . . Happy birthday Javier Lopez (33) and Billy Ashley (40).

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.

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