GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When Bronson Arroyo took the mound for his bullpen session Wednesday, many of the Reds coaches, manager Bryan Price and the front office watching him were familiar faces. After all, Arroyo pitched for the Reds from 2006-13 and won 105 games for the team.
"It's nice to be in a place where people understand you and know you, and they're not like watching your bullpen and scrutinizing you next to a guy throwing 95 and being like, 'Oh, man, if he can't get up to that, then he can't pitch,'" Arroyo said. "You don't have that here, because they understand that I've been able to be successful with kind of alternative stuff. It's comforting."
"It's fine. It's a little strange," he said. "You realize two or three years in this game sometimes can be like a decade in any other part of your life. You blink and look, there's only five guys in here you've played with. Everybody's so young. You don't remember -- 23, 24 years old -- you don't remember the locker room being that young. I actually don't think it was."
Arroyo, who turns 40 on Feb. 24, signed with the D-backs in 2014 but hasn't thrown a pitch in the big leagues since June of that season due to Tommy John (elbow) surgery and another procedure on his shoulder. He spent last season with the Nationals organization but tore his rotator cuff in camp, and later in the season, his elbow wasn't ready to let him pitch at full strength.
The Reds signed Arroyo to a Minor League deal and invited him to camp to try a comeback. He's competing for one of the two open rotation spots and would make the Major League minimum of $535,000 if he makes the club. Price doesn't expect high velocity from Arroyo, but someone who can change speeds and be deceptive even if he's in the low-to-mid 80s.
"Even the best of scouts, we can watch a guy throw and look at his stuff and say we like him or we don't like him, but the hitters tell you everything you need to know," Price said. "Then we just have to use our eyes to see how the ball's coming out of his hand, the type of life he has and the types of swings he's getting."
Wednesday's 50-pitch session, according to Arroyo, felt normal.
"Totally pain-free," he said. "I think the only question mark for me is, one, will your arm actually handle games, because there's a totally different intensity when there's a crowd there and hitters in the box."
Mesoraco was behind the plate for Arroyo's bullpen session and believed the veteran's return would be a plus for the Reds, especially if the right-hander is healthy.
"Bronson is the best," Mesoraco said. "No matter what the situation -- off the field or on the field -- if you go to Bronson, you'll get a straight-up, whatever-he-thinks answer. It will never be a worthless stock answer.
"As far as pitching, he sets a good example for these younger guys. Something that is unappreciated about Bronson is how competitive he is. You may not see in the way he goes about things, but he's very competitive and cares about winning."
Arroyo has already enjoyed being around the younger players on the rebuilding Reds.
"It's really easy for me to communicate with them and not to have them be around me for a whole month and not say a word to me because they're so worried about this guy who's played in the big leagues the last 14 years," Arroyo said.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.