SCOTTSDALE — Bronson Arroyo watched from afar as his Arizona Diamondbacks teammates hit the road for a couple of weeks in September.
Where was he? Back in Phoenix, recovering from Tommy John surgery.
“Not being with the guys for the first time in 20 years was a little strange,” Arroyo said.
In his MLB career, which began in 2000, Arroyo pitched 14 years and nearly 2,400 innings without going on the disabled list. Then, in 2014, an ulnar collateral ligament injury ended his season.
His longevity up until last year is remarkable for a pitcher. He attributes his father’s training regimen during his youth for avoiding a major injury until now.
His father prepped him to become a Major League pitcher since he was 6. Arroyo was in the weight room early. He squatted, benched and dead lifted heavier sets than he does now. The goal: to make his athletic body stronger, in hopes of getting a free education playing baseball.
Now Bronson is 38 entering his second season with the Diamondbacks. Like every person, his body’s endurance declines as he ages. The best bet is to incorporate a routine that will extend his career.
That’s where the Diamondbacks training staff comes into play. With Ken Crenshaw at the helm, Arroyo is recovering with few problems.
“These guys are the best in the game,” Arroyo said. “They’re forward thinkers.”
When he joined the team last year, heading into spring training he saw things he hadn’t seen before at other organizations, from machines to therapies.
One of those therapies includes Postural Restoration, or PRI, which the staff has him performing. PRI aligns the hips and rib cage to make sure the back stays healthy and leaves the body flexible in multiple places.
“That way your shoulder isn’t taking any more stress than it needs to,” Arroyo said. “Your elbow, as well, when throwing the baseball. It’s nice to be in what I think are really good hands.”
Arroyo said baseball has always been slow to change compared to other sports. When he came to the Diamondbacks, though, he could immediately tell they were doing something different than his previous teams.
“They’re all on the same page,” he said. “It’s very hard to have an organization where even the strength coach is doing the same things as the head trainer. Usually there’s a separation there.”
Pitching Coach Mike Harkey, who is in second season with the Diamondbacks, hasn’t had time with Arroyo yet but sees him progressing better than most would from Tommy John surgery.
Harkey expects to start working with him in about three weeks.
“I know he’s not liking it,” Harkey chuckled about Arroyo’s absence from the mound.
Arroyo is seven months into his recovery. Three days a week he plays catch, throwing from 75 feet out. He eyes a summer return when his arm is ready.
But he expects stressful times ahead, especially when he returns to the mound and inevitable setbacks with his arm occur.
“I think those are probably going to be the most frustrating times,” he said. “But that’s just me foreshadowing.”
What he couldn’t foresee was his infrequent trips home to Florida. He was there only four or five days in the offseason. He spent the rest in Phoenix with the team. He managed to play some golf but even came into the building on Saturdays to give himself the best opportunity to come back.
“I just want to make sure that in having the surgery I can come back and be the same guy I was before.”
Chris Caraveo is a journalism student in the graduate program at Arizona State University. This story is part of a partnership between Arizona Sports 98.7 and Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.