GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Even when he didn't know the velocity of his pitches, Reds starter Bronson Arroyo could feel the difference from a year ago when mononucleosis slowed him down.
In the Reds' 5-0 loss to the Padres on Wednesday, Arroyo worked three innings and gave up one run and two hits with one walk. In the first inning, Jeremy Hermida hit a first-pitch home run. Arroyo was slated to pitch two innings, but his pitch count was low enough that he needed one more.
"I felt good. My body definitely felt better, more lively and less aching than the first time out in years past," Arroyo said. "I felt like I've been out there, not as much for my feel of the game, but physically more than just one time. I felt like the ball was coming out of my hand than it has the last couple of years."
A reporter told Arroyo that his fastball velocity was in the 88-89-mph range.
"That's good this early. He's going to get even better," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
"If I can throw the ball 90 mph, I feel good about what I can do out there," Arroyo said. "Last year, I was humping up for 86 a lot of times with everything I had. It was nice to be out there and feel healthier."
Last season, Arroyo was 9-12 with a 5.07 ERA in 32 starts. He allowed a club-record 46 home runs as he battled with location issues and fatigue from his illness that stymied his velocity.
Arroyo, who is signed through 2013, had three straight 15-win or better seasons and six straight with at least 200 innings until 2011. He fully realizes that this is going to be a big year for him, especially after the extra training he put in to get his body ready.
"I'm 35 now. If I duplicate what I did last year, then I'm definitely coming down the other side of the mountain, you know?" Arroyo said. "I feel too young and vibrant, especially in the weight room with the young guys, that I don't feel that's the case. The next eight months will tell."