Reds manager Dusty Baker had a pregame prediction about Bronson Arroyo's spring debut on the mound Saturday.
"He'll probably get hit hard today like most veterans do," Baker said. "I remember [Don] Sutton used to get hit hard and Rick Reuschel used to get hit hard."
Arroyo did give up two runs and five hits in his two innings against the White Sox, but only one was hit hard. Other than a one-out double off left fielder Ryan Ludwick's glove at the warning track, the other four hits were either bloopers or on the ground, including a blooped RBI double in front of diving center fielder Chris Heisey.
"I felt decent, like you always do the first time out. Not great, not terrible," said Arroyo, who struck out one in the Reds' 4-0 loss. "I had command and threw a lot of strikes. I am happy about that. That's really the most important thing, and feeling stronger as spring goes on. If you have command on Day 1, it's going to stay there."
Arroyo was unable to participate in early workouts of Spring Training because of the flu. But that hasn't put him behind.
"I feel really good. I feel like I am on track," Arroyo said. "We've got an extra week. I should have probably six outings, which would get me to seven innings before we get out of there. That's about what we get every year."
Arroyo, 36, was 12-10 with a 3.74 ERA in 32 starts and 202 innings last season. He's pitched at least 200 innings in every season since 2005, except for when he had 199 in 2011.
Baker loves having a dependable veteran pitcher who can be counted on for double-digit wins and 200 innings.
"I'll take that. He can get on a roll as well as anybody," Baker said. "He's probably more reliable than anybody in baseball. It's been quiet reliability because he doesn't have the [Justin] Verlander stuff, strikeouts and stuff like that."
Arroyo doesn't have the stuff of his younger years anymore either. After a rough 2011, he changed his workout regimen to get stronger and keep his velocity steady. He did that same routine this past winter, but concedes it won't add more zip to his fastball.
"What you saw last year is probably about all I've got, man," Arroyo said. "Most days I'll probably be throwing 87-89 [mph] and that's enough for me to be successful. I wanted to push it and see if I could bounce back to 90-91, but I really can't get that except on exceptional days. As long as I can throw 88-89, I feel like I can command ballgames."