'Checkmate' arm may end Arroyo's comeback

'Checkmate' arm may end Arroyo's comeback

CINCINNATI -- Bronson Arroyo's shoulder has been barking loudly lately. The Reds starter is listening and acknowledged he might be done pitching.

Arroyo lasted a season-low three innings, allowing five earned runs and seven hits Sunday during the Reds' 8-7 loss to the Dodgers. Through 14 starts, Arroyo is 3-6 with a 7.35 ERA that ranks worst in the Majors among 83 qualified starting pitchers.

Manager Bryan Price and Arroyo both said they would have a conversation later on Sunday to discuss what's next.

"I think my arm is probably going to be checkmate," Arroyo said. "I've got some tears in my shoulder that we've been masking with cortisone for a while. It held up for the first three months. I got another shot, the second has disappeared after like three weeks."

Arroyo, 40, was signed in Spring Training to a Minor League deal after he missed two-and-a-half years because of Tommy John surgery on his elbow and a shoulder surgery, both in 2014. The right-hander was brought in by Cincinnati to be a veteran presence and eat up innings. While he's been very successful at being a great influence, he's been unable to get too far into games.

In his previous start last Monday at San Diego, Arroyo lasted 4 2/3 innings and gave up a season-high nine earned runs and 13 hits. Only four of his starts have been at least six innings.

"The elbow -- Tommy John [surgery] is like a chain out on a bicycle. It doesn't matter how bad the chain is, if the rest of the bike is OK, you change out the chain and you continue to move forward," Arroyo said. "But a shoulder is more like your favorite shirt you've been wearing for the last 15 years and it's been washed too many times. So it gets brittle, right?

"Right now, it's not going to work anymore. I don't know if we have any more options. We'll see."

In late May, after a rough start, Arroyo estimated that he had a month-to-six weeks left for his comeback effort to turn a corner and find success. He knew that once Homer Bailey and Brandon Finnegan were ready to come off the disabled list, his spot could be in jeopardy.

Bailey could be activated by the end of the week.

"I think he's not just challenged from stuff, he also has some physical challenges that we will address as things settle in," Price said of Arroyo. "If he's having physical issues, I wouldn't put him back out there."

Sunday started in promising fashion as Arroyo struck out the side with one hit, but his velocity has been trending downward lately. Cody Bellinger ended the first inning looking at a called strike three on a 71 mph pitch. With two outs in the second inning, pitcher Kenta Maeda scorched a two-run double. Logan Forsythe's homer in the third inning made it 5-0, giving Arroyo a Major League-leading 23 homers allowed.

Forsythe's two-run home run

"I've been grinding like hell just to be here where I am now," Arroyo said. "You have to put up enough quality starts for a ball club to want to keep you around. That could have been the last time I was on the field, yeah. It's just the way it is."

If that was the end of the line, Arroyo was glad to have given it another try.

"It's been good, man," he said. "Listen, just to make this ball club, go out there and play the game and win some ballgames, battle with these guys -- a good locker room. Get some hits. Run some bases. Everything that comes along with playing Major League Baseball, man. It's been fantastic to grind back."

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.