CINCINNATI -- By the virtue of alphabetical order, reliever Jose Arredondo's name is the first one Reds fans can see on the pitchers' portion of the 40-man roster. Because he missed all of last season and has yet to throw a pitch for Cincinnati, he also might be the most mysterious. The Reds signed Arredondo to a big league contract last winter, knowing full well he would need Tommy John surgery after he blew out his right elbow playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. They figured he'd be worth the wait.
"If he is healthy, he'll contribute very well," said Bill Bavasi, the vice president of scouting, player development and international operations for the Reds. During his rookie season with the Angels in 2008, Arredondo was 10-2 with a 1.62 ERA in 52 appearances. He allowed 42 hits and 22 walks in 61 innings, with 55 strikeouts and a .190 opponents batting average. The elbow issues began in 2009, as he split the season between the Angels and Triple-A while bothered by a sprained ligament. He had a 6.00 ERA in 43 big league appearances, and he had 47 hits and 23 walks in 45 innings. The Angels did not include him on their postseason roster. Arredondo had his Tommy John surgery last Feb. 2 and spent the entire season rehabilitating. "He's a talented guy, one of those young guys with a lot of skills," Bavasi said. "The surgery, off-time and rehab really opened his eyes to what the game is all about. What little I saw in the instructional league -- he's coming along like Edinson Volquez." Volquez came back throwing 94-97 mph after his return from Tommy John surgery, but he also had some inconsistency. However, he was also a starting pitcher thrust into the middle of a pennant race while working off the rust. Arredondo will have the benefits of a full Spring Training and the need of fewer innings. Like Volquez, Arredondo is also still quite young. He will turn 27 on March 12. Despite the departure of free-agent lefty Arthur Rhodes, the Reds have few openings in their bullpen. Arredondo could fill the void left by Rhodes, even though he's a right-handed pitcher. "Look at his numbers vs. left-handed hitters -- they're exceptional numbers," general manager Walt Jocketty said. "I think with the lefties we have and this guy, we should have enough to address left-handers out of the bullpen." Left-handed hitters batted .185 vs. Arredondo his past two seasons, compared to .264 for right-handers. The Reds have lefties like Aroldis Chapman and Bill Bray, and should have Dontrelle Willis, Matt Maloney and Daniel Ray Herrera vying for spots. Leading up to closer Francisco Cordero, Cincinnati already has right-handers Nick Masset, Logan Ondrusek, Jared Burton and Jordan Smith. Arredondo could wedge his way into a role with a successful spring. "The last I saw him in instructional league, he looked real solid," Bavasi said. "A large percentage of that surgery for pitchers is a success, so we're excited."