Notes: Arroyo stellar against old squad

Notes: Arroyo stellar against old squad

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Simultaneously on Thursday, pitcher Bronson Arroyo gave his old team something to remember him by and his new team something it hoped it could look forward to.

Arroyo's second and final spring start for the Reds happened to be against the Red Sox, the club that dealt him to Cincinnati on March 20 for outfielder Wily Mo Pena. Getting the win in a 4-0 blanking of Boston, the right-hander pitched seven superb innings. He allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out nine.

On the previous night, Arroyo came to town early to have fun with some of his former teammates. They clearly didn't keep him out very late.

Arroyo retired 16 batters in a row at one point, which included striking out the side in the fourth inning.

"Today was as close as I'm going to get to a regular-season game in Spring Training," Arroyo said. "Obviously, it was pitching against your old team and in front of a crowd you enjoyed pitching in front of. I definitely brought everything I had to the table."

Arroyo, who threw 96 pitches, was the first Reds pitcher to work seven innings all spring. He displayed good fastball command and frequently baffled hitters while throwing breaking stuff, sometimes dropping to a sidearm delivery.

"I'm looking forward to seeing him go out there every fifth day," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "We're very fortunate to have gotten him. He knows what he's doing. He's a very intelligent pitcher. He competes extremely well."

Boston manager Terry Francona didn't use super slugger David Ortiz in the game, but fielded a lineup with several regulars, including Manny Ramirez. Arroyo struck out Ramirez twice.

"'Hey, way to make me look good'," Francona said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein jokingly told him.

"It's just funny," Arroyo said. "You look across the field and see the guys you played with the last two or three years. It's like pitching against your next-door neighbor in Little League. It makes you smile. When you're on the mound, you have a hard time keeping a straight face."

Since joining the Reds, Arroyo felt he's meshed well with his new teammates and has prepared for living in Cincinnati. The mother of Red Sox infielder and Cincinnati-area native Kevin Youkilis has scouted out homes for Arroyo and sent pictures of prospective places.

All that remained Thursday was getting some closure with Boston.

While with the Red Sox from 2003-05, Arroyo was part of the 2004 World Series-winning team and earned cult hero status for his long hair and publicly stated love for the city of Boston. He signed a three-year, $11.25 million contract in January, hoping to stay.

"Getting an opportunity to come back and pitch in front of a Boston crowd one more time was good for me," said Arroyo, who finished spring 2-2 with a 6.85 ERA. "I've been getting adjusted over here the last week or 10 days. Any time you face your old teammates, you want to do well, especially when it's been such a short time since you've been traded."

As starting lineups were introduced before the game, Arroyo received a loud ovation from appreciative fans as the ballpark's public address announcer called his name. After the game, music blared from the pitcher's cover album of rock songs, aptly titled "Covering the Bases."

Wait and see: Two catchers may be taking a flight, but Cincinnati might not be the final destination for one of them.

The Reds continued to keep their catching options open as they wait and see how starter Jason LaRue recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery. LaRue, who was badly limping following a rehabilitation session Wednesday, has insisted he'll be ready Monday for Opening Day.

Narron wasn't so sure.

"I don't want him to have any lingering effects with this thing," Narron said. "I'd rather see him be ready when we go to Chicago the following week. But if he thinks he's ready to go on Monday and we can guarantee there won't be any lingering effects, we'll see what happens."

As LaRue heals, David Ross and Dane Sardinha sit on the bubble. Ross caught all nine innings and went 0-for-4 against Boston while Sardinha saw no action.

"I have to believe on Saturday that Ross, Sardinha and [Javier] Valentin will all be on the plane [to Cincinnati]," Narron said. "We'll see what happens after that. There won't be a decision made before that I don't think."

Ross is trying to stay focused.

"I'm just trying to take care of business on the field right now," said Ross, who's batting .424 (14-for-33) combined this spring with the Padres and Reds. "I haven't really thought about the season. I've been packing like I'm going to Cincinnati."

Hume helping: In an expected announcement, the Reds revealed Thursday that pitching coach Vern Ruhle will remain in Sarasota to continue cancer treatments after the club breaks camp. As he's done at times this spring, bullpen coach Tom Hume will assume Ruhle's duties. Triple-A Louisville coach Lee Tunnell will take over for Hume in the bullpen.

Ruhle was diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer in early March. It was not known when he'd return to Cincinnati's bench.

The moves made room for former Reds pitcher Mario Soto to become Louisville's interim pitching coach. Soto has impressed the organization this spring as a first-time guest instructor.

Coming up: The Reds will make their final spring road trip Friday to meet the Indians in Winter Haven at 1:05 p.m. ET. Brandon Claussen is scheduled to start against Cleveland's Cliff Lee.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.